So you think you have a squeaky clean reputation and are immune to negative talk and speculation? You are pushing out positive messages like a well-oiled machine to ensure you and your company are seen in the most positive light.
That may be the case in your circle of control but what about beyond that? Have you thought about what isn’t in your “control” such as comments by others about you/your company, posting of photos you didn’t mean the world to see or private information that ends up on the internet? It isn’t just what you post that forms your reputation but what other people post about you.
You could think about it the same way you would go about making a purchase decision. You might read information that the company has written about a product but then ask others or go to public forums and online reviews only to find that there are faults and frustrations with the product and how it performs. As a representative we can say all the positive things you like but from a public perception the public is more likely to believe a stranger online. Why? Because a third party endorsement has far more credibility than what a person or company says about itself.
There is nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide and what goes online stays online. We all watch and cringe as a video goes viral of someone doing something that will not only tarnish their reputation now but stay with them forever as a label they will want to forget. And it just gets worse. They lose their job, their place on the sporting team, their relationship breaks down and others start distancing themselves.
In the words of Warren Buffet, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently”.
I think the examples I’m thinking of have had enough air time recently. So how can you ensure you continue to be perceived in a positive light?
Apart from avoiding doing something really stupid – with or without the influence of drugs or alcohol – there are steps you can take to manage your reputation online.
There are three key actions to live by:
- Listen and monitor what is being said online about you / your company. Do an online search online looking at news, images and videos. For a more comprehensive search there are a load of paid solutions for monitoring social media but to kick off set up a Google alert in your name.
- Create positive content consistently. Do things that help build your reputation – writing expert articles, sharing good and relevant content and get better at mastering media interviews.
- Address negative sentiment. So someone has made a negative comment on your /your company’s Facebook page? Before you hit that delete button, think about how you can turn the situation around. That negative comment may be a common thought so countering it with facts may not only sway the person who wrote it, but others who are reading it and thinking the same. Nothing smells more than a company trying to hide bad reviews.
It is always good to have a crisis communications plan ready to roll out in the case of unforeseen issues.
In all cases, whether it is your professional online networks or personal online networks there is only one rule – Do not say or do anything that you don’t want to see in print (or on TV, or online or…..).
So what is your reputation worth? Would you spare ten minutes a day to manage your reputation? Because that may be all that is required to stay on top of how your reputation is tracking.