Have you tried “googling” yourself? If not, go ahead now and perform a self-search. What do the results say about you?
What search engines say about you is your online reputation – be the search results come up with irrelevant and mundane posts to positive and negative ones. How you manage your online reputation is called personal branding, and of course you wouldn’t want your future date, employer or client to get the wrong impression with an ill-managed reputation, right?
According to the 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey, 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. As a business owner, building a strong online reputation would be your ticket to be recognized in your industry as well as gain online friends and fans who would advertise you for free.
Introducing your brand
You would have been living in a cave if you don’t have an online presence. A Facebook profile would have worked or that old account in Friendster or MySpace. The things is, in order to have an effective online presence, you need to do the following:
1. Build your persona
For a small business, you can start making your presence known by creating profiles in powerful sites such as Google Plus, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Do remember that your profile should reflect the brand or reputation that you want to portray. Are you the wise businessman? The adventurous photographer? The creative web developer? Put up your website and your own blog and start building a name for yourself.
2. Build your network
You should show more interest in others than in yourself. No matter how great your profile is if you don’t have anyone to view and recommend you, then it would just go to waste. Follow big names in the industry, retweet them, and comment on their post. Befriend people in your industry or those who are interested with your craft. Just remember to repost things relevant to you.
3. Build your reputation
Now that you have gained quite a number of followers and people who look up to you, you should be careful in what you say or post. Become an authority in your industry, but still find the chance to be funny or wise as this would lead to people becoming attached to you and unconsciously make a routine of checking out your page.
Always remember the rule with social media: 4 informative or engaging posts to 1 promotional status. Don’t let those followers unfriend you!
Avoiding digital blunder
Of course, not everyone is starting with a clean slate. There are those businesses that have quite a reputation and due to some digital blunder can’t seem to erase such negative reputation. In 2013, American Airlines built a negative reputation due to celebrity complaints on social media to a viral video of a ranting flight attendant.
But there are also those who were able to manage ill reputation well. United Airlines baggage handlers broke a guitar and didn’t reimburse the owner, who then recorded a song about it which went viral. United gave away Starbucks gift cards on domestic flights which gave them positive sentiment.
For those who can’t do such drastic move, the type of online reputation management that you can do is to bury all those negative results with positive links. Write as many good entries as you can and make people talk about them. Or you can hire the services of a SEO company would be able to not just fix the blunder but to also help you build an effective online presence.
In building a strong online reputation, you just need to remember to always put your best foot forward online.