The biggest mistake when trying to manage your online reputation is to be totally oblivious of what your reputation even is. How do people see you? Are they saying good or bad things? Is there something embarrassing about you from 10 years ago floating around out there? If your answer is “I don’t know” then that’s bad. Go to your search engine of choice. Type in your name. Read everything. Do this regularly. If you find any really potentially harmful information about yourself, like a leaked Social Security number or other content that should be immediately removed, contact the owner of the site. If you do not get a response, a support team from the search engine should be able to help you have the harmful content removed.
If you’re responding to a negative comment on Yelp on behalf of your business, make it clear that you’re responding on behalf of your business. Don’t try to pass yourself off as a satisfied customer, outraged that someone had a bad experience. You’ll come off looking even worse once people find out you tried to mislead them – and believe me, they’ll find out. If negative comments appear on your own property (for example, your Facebook fan page) carefully consider the consequences before deleting them. Too much deleting can make you look like you have something to hide.
Don’t assume your actions are private.
Although emails, Facebook messages, and Twitter direct messages are more private forms of communication than things like blog posts, status updates, and tweets, they’re not absolute. Take the 2011 case of a U.S. politician who accidentally tweeted the contents of an explicit direct message. You probably heard about it – he was publicly humiliated and had no choice but to resign from office. Even if you’re not a married public servant sending dirty messages on the job, you still need to watch your step. The contents of a slanderous or embarrassing email or Facebook message can easily become public, whether by accident or by direct intent of the other party.
Regularly create fresh content.
If you can’t make the negative disappear completely, you can always try to make it appear lower in search results where people are less likely to see it. “If you can get stuff that you want people to see to outperform the stuff you don’t want them to see, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of harm that that negative or embarrassing content can do to your reputation,” says Google’s guide to protecting your personal information. Google and other search engines favor newer content, so it helps if this content is produced on a regular basis (for example: blog posts, Twitter and Facebook updates, press releases).
Know when it’s out of your hands.
If you feel like your online reputation is beyond your control, don’t lose hope. Online reputation management experts can assist you with damage control and rebuilding your good name. Contact the online marketing experts at Zen Media today for more information.