Without a good online reputation, it is difficult to succeed, whether you’re a CEO or an average Joe with a high profile. Your online reputation, can be destroyed quickly, before you even realize it. And once the damage is done, fixing it and handling the negative repercussions can become a PR nightmare.
Thankfully, “difficult” is not “impossible.” By the time you finish reading this article, you will have a good idea of how to avoid ruining your reputation online, and how to fix it as quickly as possible if you’re already in damage-control mode. In essence, you need to proactively manage your reputation, and employ a holistic strategy for healing any damage that occurs.
You Need to Focus on Your Profile Right Now
Your online reputation must be handled proactively, but I see far too many executives handling their reputations reactively. Trying to manage your reputation after it has been damaged costs more time and energy to fix it than building in resilience from go. Build your profile before you even need it. Even if you’re not working right now, begin creating a positive online reputation.
By creating a history of positive interactions and feedback, you create a community of trusted associates. When a situation arises that could harm your reputation, that community can look at it and say, “That’s not the person I know. They wouldn’t do that,” which reduces, and may even negate, the damage that would have been done to your online reputation otherwise. To explain the building process, I like to focus on what I call the 3 Bs of Reputation Management.
Be aware. Listen to what is happening in your industry. Know where you want to go with your career. An online reputation builds when you publish content, but it also builds when you are listening to the conversations around you.
Be focused. You are the best at what you do, but can you define what it is that you do? Your online reputation builds through expertise. When your individualized branding is focused on one message, it becomes possible to eliminate contradictions that can lead to reputation damage.
Be authentic. This is the most common mistake I see today. Instead of being themselves, people from all walks of life try to exaggerate their experiences. They may tell half-truths, outright lies, or make themselves to be bigger or more important than they really are. I encourage everyone to be humble, honest, and forthright so that a reputation is built on a solid digital footprint.
Best Building Practices: Black Hat vs Holistic
The temptation to build a positive online reputation quickly can be difficult to resist. Black hat practices promise quick rewards, but the results can lead to long-term damage that can be difficult to repair.
Black hat methods include keyword stuffing, doorway pages, unwanted redirects and invisible text. Does it work? Sure. It can also get a website banned from search engines and lead you down the road toward a permanently poor online reputation. I always, always, always recommend the holistic approach. It takes more time and effort to build a reputation through this methodology, but the results are authentic. My strategies are straightforward:
Mitigation of negative content.
Even if you’ve experienced PR issues or reputation nightmares in the past, the damage can be mitigated with this approach.
Do You Need to Mitigate Your Online Presence?
When negative content affects the way you do business, then you need to take action to mitigate the crisis. I’ve found that the very best thing to do is to listen to what others are saying and respond in a kind, professional manner. With modern levels of information access, if you create a negative impact on others, your brand will be judged on whether or not you offer an apology. It will also be judged on how you apologize. You must choose words and actions carefully. In severe instances, you may even need to reduce your online presence.In most circumstances, however, I’ve found that the power of social media can help any person, brand, or business rebound quickly and effectively.
I can help you turn a negative experience into a positive experience by working through social media to change people’s feelings and reactions. Adaptive responses reduce negative impacts immediately.
Offering honest responses to honest feedback shows that you’re willing to listen to the perspectives and experiences others are sharing. This will put you on the road to recovery, no matter how bad the nightmare may be.
It’s always easier to manage an online reputation before negative impacts occur. Like it or not, you’re building a reputation right now. Manage it proactively with a holistic approach and you will find that reducing your risks can bring you great rewards.