How many times have you done something in life that you regret doing? Probably more often then you think. Whether it was saying something you shouldn't have, embarrassing yourself in public or even committing a felony, we all have things that we are ashamed of but most of them are only known to ourselves or just a few people around us.
However, the internet has changed everything...
In today's world of everyone have a mobile device with a camera and social media instantly sharing content with millions of people around the world, no brand or individual is safe. What you may have been able to sneak away with in the past, is simply a reputation and PR disaster waiting to happen.
So now let's pose a question... what if everything you've done in the past was recorded or documented on the internet for everyone to see? What would you do?
Unlike Las Vegas, where what happens there stays there, when something is posted to the internet it's usually available for everyone to see. Not only is it available for everyone to see, it can also quickly be replicated and spread through social media to millions of people in just a few minutes time. For this reason and many more, reputation management is now a huge priority for individuals, brands, businesses and well-known individuals.
To back up these statements, let's take a look at how individuals and organizations of all sizes are preparing for how to deal with what appears online and how it may affect their customer buying decisions, branding and reputation online. (source: Digital Fly Marketing)
- - 80% of adults are "very" or "somewhat" more likely to consider buying products when they are recommended by real-world friends and family.
- - 78% of executive recruiters routinely use search engines to learn more about candidates, and 35% have eliminated candidates based on the information they found.
- - 87% of people believe the CEO's reputation is an important part of a company's reputation.
- - 90% of consumers trust recommendations from others.
- - 83% of companies face a crisis that will negatively impact their share price between 20% and 30% during the next five years.
The key takeaway here is that what people find when they are searching for information online greatly influences their buying decisions, first impressions of someone and how they quickly build an assumption for a brand or individual.
Without a reputation management plan in place you are essentially giving the internet free reign to provide everyone with a first impression of yourself or your business no matter how authentic or false it might be. In short, you have no control.
Don't have a reputation management plan in place? Here's what you could be leaving yourself or your brand open to.
- - Not knowing who is saying/reading what and where - One of the best ways to have no control over what others are saying and reading about you or your brand online is to not monitor online mentions. The good news is that this can easily be done in just a few minutes time with a free tool like Google Alerts.
- - Negative and false reviews - One of the most effective ways to damage a brand online is through top online review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Pissed Consumer and Rip Off Report. It's not just your customers who may be leaving negative reviews online, but also your competition.
- - Competitors ranking for your name and other relevant terms - The only thing worse than not ranking for your name and brand in the search results is seeing your competition or something damaging to your brand in its place. SEO is one of the most important components of online reputation management and if you aren't building a protective wall around your personal name and brand, there is no telling what will appear when someone searches for your name on Google.
Yes, what happens on the internet stays on the internet, but that doesn't mean your reputation online has to stay the way it currently is. With a solid reputation management plan in place there is a way to control what appears at the top of the search results and what is found when someone searches for your name/brand online.
To get started with protecting your personal name and brand online, focus on your exact personal name or brand first, then work backwards to cover all relevant terms and phrases. Treat your main website as your hub and link all social profiles back to your site. This is one of the most effective ways to quickly start pushing your content higher in the search results and securing your place in the #1 location.
To learn more about this method, be sure to read our article on how to build a protective wall around your brand.