Whether you’re ready to embrace it or not, social media is changing the way we communicate and make decisions. Today’s technology has impacted our daily lives and routines in a big way. If you don’t wake up to Facebook, you probably know someone who does. And good luck trying to escape the world of Twitter – it’s even invaded the nightly news.
If you aren’t participating in these sites, it’s easy to feel left out or alone. You may even proudly proclaim that you get more done without social networks and that strangers don’t need to know what you ate for breakfast. The problem is, if you’re an executive, a public figure or just Joe Schmoe looking for a job, you need an online presence. If I Google your name and find nothing but your qualifying time for a 5k and your Classmates.com listing, that doesn’t help me make a more informed decision about whether to hire you or your services. You need to dominate your search results and find ways to stand out from the crowd of other applicants.
Online reputation management (ORM) isn’t just about crisis management; it’s about relevance and prevention. If someone searches for your name, do they get relevant and positive results about you? If you share a name with Tom Cruise you may have a hard time ranking, but for the vast majority of us, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get at least one professional listing in the top ten results. And by professional listing, I don’t mean your MySpace page. You want a credible result that demonstrates your excellence in a particular industry or role.
It may not take much to get there, but you probably have questions about how to do it and you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend with a competitive online reputation management company. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to actively manage your online reputation today. So, let’s dive in to three simple techniques for do-it-yourself ORM:
- Register your name. Use KnowEm to register your username across hundreds of social networks, reducing the likelihood of taken or, even worse, hijacked usernames. Since you’re reading KnowEm’s blog, I hope you’ve already made the investment. It’s worth its weight in gold when you consider the amount of money and time spent everyday by businesses trying to reclaim trademarked domains and social profiles. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to salvage a username or work around a client’s terrible domain because they didn’t have the foresight to register it before a competitor or an angry customer. So, if you haven’t done it yet, sign-up for KnowEm, right now. Seriously.
Bonus tip: Don’t stop with your social profiles, register your domain name! It’s just a couple of bucks, so money isn’t an excuse when it’s our most powerful tool for repairing a client’s online reputation.
- Build up your accounts. Now that you’ve registered your username, identify the most relevant and powerful networks (mainstream and/or industry-specific) and beef up those accounts. During the registration process with KnowEm they customized your profiles, but there might be more opportunities, such as integrating your Twitter or blog feed, adding external links to multiple sites, customizing your URL or adding a longer bio or personal interests. Take advantage of every opportunity on those stronger networks.
Bonus tip: Befriend everyone you know by using the network’s friend or address book search feature (most social networks should have the latter). Also, look for active, new and similar contacts that you would enjoy communicating with on that network. This helps make your account more powerful by cross-linking it with others.
- Use your accounts. Once you know which accounts are performing the best and have optimized those, identify the ones that are most relevant to you and start participating on them. It isn’t enough to simply register the accounts. If you have any competition for your name, you’ll also have to use the networks. After you’ve identified half a dozen accounts you’re going to maintain, choose one to two that you check daily and just do weekly posts on the others. This adds fresh content to your account, increases interaction with other users and makes it more likely that someone will link to you. Each of those will help your account rank better in the search engines.
Bonus tip: Understand the privacy policies of each social network and your professional situation. The last thing you want to do is share private information or make slanderous remarks that could get you fired and force more drastic reputation management techniques!
Those few things make up the basics of DIY online reputation management. After you’ve set up your accounts, optimized them and used them, be patient. It could take several months to see significant results, but over time they should change in your favor.
Want to learn more about how you can improve your search results? Check out the online reputation management guide from Outspoken Media. And, if you have a problem that requires more aggressive results, contact us.