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).
The world has changed. You absolutely need an online presence. Whether you are working your way up the corporate ladder, or starting a side project, setting yourself up online can give you a competitive edge. However, setting yourself up isn’t enough. You need to let people know you are out there so the right people can find you at the right times, when they want your expertise.
To do this, you must learn how to communicate online.
Over the past few years, I have slowly begun to build an online presence. While I was learning, these tools were the ones I relied on the most. I used them in different stages of development. Some I used for inspiration when I was just starting, some I use today.
Below, you will find a list of these tools. The best part? They are all free! What would you add to the list?
Savvy Sexy Social – a good source for social media AND video tips! She also is part of a company called Vlog boss that has some video tips (or can do the entire thing for you if you would like). Bonus: she is fun. You might especially like her editorial calendar for 2014 if you are interested in planning out your videos or blogs ahead of time. She also has a great Twitter guide for setting up your social media plan, but you have to subscribe to her newsletter to get it.
Amy Porterfield – she is known for Facebook marketing and she has a ton of free webinars and other things. She also has one of the best marketing podcasts out there.
Derek Halpern – He is known for teaching psychological principles behind getting people to subscribe to a blog (among other things), but I think that if you are on the fence about starting a blog, you’d like this post at this moment (he is also quite fun) http://socialtriggers.com/build-your-blog/
HubSpot – they are absolutely amazing. Go to their Academy section or their Marketing Library because OH MY GOODNESS they give away so much information for absolutely free. I get pictures, books, templates for blogs and ebooks, EVERYTHING. I love them. And, they are always adding to the list or resources.
Pat Flynn – Specifically, his post about launching a new site and how to do it in a big way. He’s the man!
Hootsuite – you can have an online presence 24/7 with only spending about 40 minutes a day to set up all your marketing. This is a free program that allows you to schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, wherever, ahead of time. Sometimes I’ll sit down and schedule posts for two weeks. If you use the editorial calendar I showed you above and know when your content is going out, you’ll be able to schedule the publicity of it and not have to actually be at your computer to do it. If you would like to stay involved and maintain relationships on social media, but don’t want it to get in the way of actual work, this tool is a must. It rocks.
MailChimp – If you would like to collect email addresses (which I HIGHLY recommend that you do so that you can have a rolodex of potential clients when it comes time to offer a product or class or look for a job, or whatever else you may want to do in the future). MailChimp will do this for you for free. It isn’t the best product out there, but it is the best of the free. Once you start getting clients and a list, you’ll want to upgrade to Aweber. They are $20/month. You really should start doing this right away and keep in touch with your subscribers on a regular basis. I know it is a common thought that these things are annoying and no one wants to sell. However, if you don’t need to only contact your subscribers to sell something. You can also give them something. If you are providing value, then this isn’t annoying at all. For instance, I signed up for a 21 day meditation guide with Oprah and Deepak around November. Every morning, I received an email with the day’s meditation. I loved it, because I wanted it. If you do the same thing, you’ll provide value and your customers will look forward to your emails, not dread them.
Canva – If you want to design some pictures, but don’t want to take the time to learn or use PhotoShop, go to Canva. It is incredibly easy. If they say you need an invite, email me and I’ll see if I can get you one.
Schedule Once – This is a free service (they have paid and free options) that allow customers to book you online. The applications here are endless. You get to decide how far in advance, your schedule, how long the appointment is, etc. This way, you can let them book on the spot without the constant back and forth that comes with, “well when can you make it? I can’t make it then, how about this time? No, ok, what about three Tuesdays from now?” and do on. I’m using it now to book my podcast interviews. I have the free version, but I hear the paid version is really much better (free works fine).
This is a small, but basic list. What would you add? How do you make sure your online communication is clear and effective? I want to know, and so does everyone else, so leave it in the comments below!