10 June 2021|Crisis Management, Latest Posts, Psychology
By Simon Wadsworth. Online reputation management is vital to your success in today’s ultra-connected world. When I launched online reputation management agency Igniyte back in 2009, the writing was on the wall. And over the years, the importance of maintaining a curated and careful professional and personal online presence has grown in importance.
From online reviews to social media profiles, and from comments you left on an article 10 years ago to news stories about your company… our online footprints are extensive, wide ranging and significant.
You need be sure, that as an entrepreneur, that nothing negative is lurking online that could impact your future success and that you have a consistent, detailed strategy on how to grow a positive online reputation.
Our interconnected world makes online reputation your number one concern
Google makes it the work of milliseconds for anyone to search your name or your company name. A few more minutes and people will probably be able to find where you live, your political persuasion and which football team you support.
While people are generally more aware of the need for privacy when it comes to private social media channels, ensuring your online presence is completely clear takes time, effort and careful management. But it really matters.
Executives say that almost half of the reputation of the company they work rests on that of the CEO. And on the other side, social recruiting is growing fast. Pretty much every company will search potential candidates online before inviting to interview. Google and other search engines do not care how your reputation comes across. Results are simply filtered by what’s popular and relevant.
Do you need to make changes to boost your online reputation?
So, what can you do? First, Google your own name, job, past roles and anything else remotely connected with you. Have a look at the first page and see what comes up. Depending on your position and personal use of social media, results will be mixed. Even if you don’t immediately see anything that concerns you, the breadth of information you can see about yourself shows just how risky an un-curated internet presence can be.
Whether you’re fronting a company, leading a brand or considering a career move, there are plenty of reasons people might search your name. And it’s possible that negativity online could impact your chances of success.
Assuming there is no outright negativity linked with your name, what else do you see when you Google it? Do the search results portray you and your ideas? Would it instil confidence in potential clients, or in your peers, customers or the media? It’s a good way to see what kind of first impression people might get about you, and to help you figure out what needs to change.
After all, having a strong, believable personal brand can really impact the amount of custom your business experiences.
If you feel you need to have a more concentrated strategy, there are steps you can take.
Steps to take to improve your online reputation:
1. Actively suppress negative content
Most of us never look beyond page one of any Google search. And that’s why the front page of Google is all important when it comes to people finding out anything about you, whether professionally or on a personal level. Even if there are positive links to be found a few pages down, these become essentially useless as most people simply won’t scroll that far.
This is where content strategies should come in. By creating high-quality, relevant and requested content that people want to read, negative links will be pushed further down the page. Content creation is a deceptively difficult path to take, and it should only be undertaken through extremely high-quality blogs, articles and thought leadership content. The idea is to create the persona that best reflects you in an honest and accessible way. When this is achieved, the front page of Google searches of your name will naturally be full of positive links.
2. Challenge Google to remove content.
This should be the first step (if there is negative content out there about you) if you want to alter the online impression people have of you. If there is something that comes up on Google searches that could feasibly damage either your personal or professional relationships, then you can request that it is removed.
3. Initiate your right to be forgotten.
The legal right to be forgotten was introduced as part of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It means that it’s possible to formally request that unwanted, dated, irrelevant or incorrect online information about you be removed. This includes image, videos or text.
When you make an application to remove any content, Google will make a judgement. Your right to privacy is measured against the interests of the public in having access to this information. This means to successfully remove Google content, you need to know exactly what to do, how to proceed, and to ensure that total accuracy is maintained throughout the process. You will need to speak to expert on this one.
4. Implement a coherent and strong social media plan.
Managing social media is a 24/7 job. The Internet never sleeps and nor do the channels that now effectively control the conversation. People never stop posting and, if you are an entrepreneur with a start-up, or a business leader, then at any time someone could be posting about you.
How you come across on every relevant platform matters. That includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Medium, Snapchat, Reddit… And most people by middle age have posted on various channels through the years. It’s always a plan to check back through your profiles and shut down any that are no longer relevant.
This might sound like a lot of work, particularly if you’re not hugely active in the social media space. But these days it’s essential, particularly for start-up owners, entrepreneurs and innovators. Developing a strong social media presence will do a lot to boost other companies and individual’s opinions of you and your business.
About the Author
Simon Wadsworth is a reputation management expert and the Managing Director of Igniyte, a leading expert online reputation management and digital PR company.
Igniyte are experts in online reputation management and they help companies, brands and individuals in building a strong online presence through SEO, PR, content, social media and best practice online reputation management tools and techniques. Based in the UK, in Leeds and London, Igniyte has global reach with clients in the UK, Europe, US, Africa, UAE and Hong Kong.