Posted: April 6, 2015, 2:27 p.m.
by Ana Vega.
If you have ever tried to build your credit score, you may be familiar with the long-term process of proving yourself as a reliable person. Enhancing your online reputation is fairly similar to that, and with millions of resources accessible to virtually anyone, maintaining it can be a difficult process as well.
Reputation management includes monitoring what is shared on the Internet about oneself, company or organization, confronting content that could be damaging, and dismissing inaccurate information. Many choose to do so by pushing positive media out in hopes of covering up negative search results. Then there are others who go to the extent of generating fake profiles to create positive feedback to cover up negative content. Some take the fair route and will enhance their presence proactively by posting regularly to their social media sites and keeping the public updated through their website.
This happens fairly often because of how easily your reputation or your company’s reputation can go down the drain. The uncovering of an embarrassing photo or a bad business review can affect one’s credibility. And the worst part is, with the Internet at your fingertips, incidents can be spread with the world in seconds.
Doing small things like routinely searching you or your company on Google can prevent these meltdowns. Checking the results will make you aware of the strength of your online presence or if you are actually invisible, which isn’t always a good thing if you are a company. Online invisibility may seem ideal to college students searching for jobs, but for companies, hiding in the dark to avoid bad press isn’t smart. After all, isn’t that what a public relations professional is for? As for recent graduates, unless you have a personal publicist, remember that clean social media is the best social media.
“Social media sites can very quickly become polluted with other people’s agendas and biases, as well as inaccurate information,”said Deborah M. Lane, assistant to the president and associative vice president for University Relations at The University of Alabama. “It’s important to have a constant presence and to quickly counteract inaccurate posts.”
According to Lane, posting with diligence can help keep your sites clean. Think twice about what you post, when you post and how you are presenting the information. As a company, you want the information that you place online to show that you are a contributing member of the community who acts with integrity and fairness, and that your company can be trusted by its employees, customers and neighbors.
“When your actions match your values, you enjoy the loyalty of your employees, your customers, your investors and your legislators,” Lane said.
By following proper guidelines, you can prevent yourself from being a victim of an inappropriate Internet search result. Not only is it simple to discover information from a Google search, but there are also companies that exist for the sole purpose of looking further into your history.
Employers pay large sums of money to use websites, such as Social Intelligence, to look further into the background of a prospective employee before they are hired.
“Most hiring managers will Google you, look to see if you have a LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed or a public Facebook,” said Karissa Sparks, vice president of marketing for Reputation.com.
Sparks said that the largest problem people face when building their online reputation is that the information about them is outdated or outright false. In return, this negative content hurts one’s career.
“The best defense is good offense when building your online reputation,” Sparks said. “If you have been working on building or publishing content that’s truthful about yourself, it can be a buffer.”
In the case that a crisis does appear, Sparks suggests the best way to get through it is to step back — not engage when the fire is burning — and then rebuild from there.
However, to prevent an unintentional hurtful post from even occurring, Sparks said is to think before you post and not post when you’re feeling too passionate about something.
Some opinions are stronger than others, and you never know whether that one post you find funny may be extremely insulting to a friend, follower or even your own company. According to Lane, it is important to realize that your current or future employers are using the same sites as you; therefore, they can see what you are saying and doing.
“It’s called ‘social’ media for a reason. Anything you put on social media sites is instantly accessible to the world, forever,” Lane said.