What percentage of your day to day interactions occur via some type of computer mediated communication? Between emails, social media, blog comments, viewing pictures and videos from friends and reading content that others have written, I’d bet a large percentage of your communication is digital.[Related] Computer mediated communication, helpful or hurtful?
The impression people get when they interact with you online is JUST as important as the one they get while interacting with you in person, or when they see you for the first time. In a previous post, I discussed ways to communicate your online credibility. In that post, I mentioned ways that one could present themselves as to increase their perceived competence and character through online interactions. However, if the right people aren’t actually seeing all the good work you’re putting into creating a stellar online presence, it is all pretty pointless. So, today, I’ll discuss ways to manage your online reputation – that is, what people see when they are looking for you or your company. If you’re struggling to understand the difference between your online credibility and your online reputation, think about it like this – your credibility is what people think once they’ve found pieces written about your or by you, your reputation is how prominent those good and bad pieces are on the internet. For this reason, the discussion about maintaining a positive online reputation is a bit more technical. But, don’t worry, it isn’t too tough. We’ll start by addressing some pro-active ways to manage your online reputation.[Related] Communicating your credibility to increase influence
Just like in high school when you wanted to know who was talking about you and what they were saying, you’ll want to do the same on the internet. To do this, you’ll want to sign up with a service that alerts you every time someone mentions your name, brand, email or business. I use Mention and Google Alerts. Both are easy to set up. Once you have them running, you’ll receive notifications whenever your keywords are mentioned online, or on social media.
People are looking for you online. Whether you’re getting your 15 minutes of fame, or you’re just the average girl next door, people will look you up. In order to have some control over what they see, you’ll want to manage all of the obvious and most popular places for them to find you. Linked In is a must, but think beyond that. If you run a small business, you’ll want to create profiles on relevant directories (like Yelp or Angie’s list).
I’ve heard many people say that they stay off social media to avoid any possible negative exposure that may come with it. We know that employers now search social media and have been known to ask for social media log ins to check up on activity. But, is abstinence the best approach? Rather than thinking of all the ways social media can hurt you, consider the ways it can help by having control of what others see when they search your name. You have the ability to maintain the posts associated with the account, your bio and photos. This is a great way to present your best self.
This is the best, and most under utilized method of maintaining a positive online presence. A website is the perfect way to highlight your strengths, display your portfolio and show potential clients and employers what you can do. If you have avoided creating a website because you fear technology, stop. It isn’t difficult to get a site up and running in just a few minutes. You absolutely don’t need a web designer or a programmer for the purposes of a personal website. I use WordPress, which is a very user friendly platform. I pay about $6/month to host the site (hosting means, someone keeps it up and running so others can access it) using BlueHost. If you don’t yet have a website, click here right now and sign up for one in your own name. Once you do, BlueHost will show you how to install WordPress. No code. Just a simple click installation. I promise, it is easy.
Now that you have destinations for potential browsers, make sure that your preferred destination finds itself on the front page, in the number one spot on Google. This post from Mashable shows you how Norton now provides this reputation service for free.
Next, set up your website so the search engines know it is a web destination all about you. To do this, make sure your name appears on the homepage, in the meta-description and on the page. Since you likely don’t own a competitive name, it won’t be difficult to appear toward the top of a search.
Select professional photos of yourself to place on your site and use your name in the title, the alt tag, caption and description. This will control the images that appear in search.
Create a YouTube account and post videos to your account. If you’re not sure what to post, try how to videos related to your profession. This is a great way to establish authority in your field.YouTube is also a large search engine owned by Google, so videos will pop up in search very easily.
Seek out guest posting opportunities on blogs that are relevant to your industry. This will really give you an opportunity to shine. By creating educational content that showcases your knowledge and talents, and then getting that posted on a prominent blog, you’ll appear as the expert in your field. Plus, this is another way to pop up in search. To really take advantage of these opportunities, make sure you sign up with a Google Authorship account. This is what gets your picture to show up in search, adding a layer of trust and transparency. It is easy to set up. If you already have a Google Plus account, simply follow the link above and enter your email. If you don’t have a Google Plus account, make one. See #10.
Speaking of Google Plus, create an account and post occassionally. You don’t have to post often for the purposes of maintaining credibility, but post occassionally. Specifically, share links to the guest posts and website you’ve created. Google favors Google Plus posts in search. They compete with everyone else for the top page (unlike Twitter or Facebook posts). This means, it is fairly easy to rank, especially for non-competitive words (like your own name).
Assuming you have no significant online reputation problems to begin with, following these
will get you started on the right track. It doesn’t take much effort to maintain these profiles once they’re up, but you’ll want to check in on them and update them occasionally (perhaps once a month for most, more often for social media like Google Plus and Linked In).
Sandy empowers the young and talented to increase their power and influence by improving their ability to be heard and be clear. She does this by providing access to rigorously tested research in the communication, psychology, and marketing fields.