How To Dominate Your Online Reputation

Your Online Reputation – Have you ever Googled your own name? If not, do it now, because other people could be Googling your name, and they will base their opinion of you on what they find. One recent study showed just how important this actually is.

“More than a quarter of Americans, including more than one in three Millennials, now believe that they are more likely to make a first impression online than at a party.”

And this is important not just in terms of building new friendships. Around 80% of employers state that they Google prospective employees before deciding whether or not to offer them a job. As such, it is vital that you have a positive online reputation. So how do you do that?

1. Know Your Standing – Your Online Reputation

First of all, you need to know what your online presence is. Only once you have that knowledge can you make positive changes. Don’t just Google yourself, but do also check Bing and Yahoo.

2. Take Over Social Properties and Domains

Start to create a brand for yourself. Set up internet pages with URLs that contain your name. All these pages and social media sites need to show you in a positive light. If you are a business, make sure you have a press page and an awards page as well.

3. Know Your Goals and Limitations

Building a positive online presence takes time and you have to be realistic about that. You need to make sure that the goals you set for yourself are achievable in terms of time. For instance, if you are hoping for a new job, then creating a positive LinkedIn account is more important than writing a blog. If, on the other hand, you want to create a business, then a blog and a Facebook page should be your priorities.

Do also make sure that you develop your Unique Value Proposition (UVP).

“Also known as a unique selling proposition (USP), your UVP is a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.”

Make sure that your UVP is visible across all your pages. And don’t think that a UVP is only for businesses. It is equally important for individuals, as it is a way to tell the world who you are and what you stand for.

4. Develop a Social Media and Content Strategy – Your Online Reputation

Now that you know what you want and what you can do, it is time to start thinking strategically. Start by thinking about what is already out there about you (remember point 1) and think about what you want to change. Also think about what you want them to know about you (your UVP) and how you can get that message across.

To do that properly, you need to think about who you are trying to reach. A prospective employer, for instance, is likely to look you up on LinkedIn and on Facebook. A prospective customer if you own a restaurant, for example, is more likely to look on TripAdvisor or Yelp. You must learn how to promote yourself, where to promote yourself, and when to promote yourself.

5. Create a Schedule and Stick to It – Your Online Reputation

Once you have your strategy in place, you can create an action plan of what to do and when. It is vital that you stick to that. You cannot have an action plan that says “create a blog post when I have time”. This goes back to point 3 about knowing your goals and limitations. And do also factor in time to review your action plan to see if you are meeting your goals.

Online Reputation – When Suddenly, What People Say Matters

Online Reputation: Most of us are taught from a young age that we shouldn’t care about what other people say about us. What matters is only the opinion of those closest to us, and if someone has a problem, it is theirs to deal with. In fact, that idea is a key element of positive thinkers and postulate gurus the world over.

“What other people think about you is none of your business. It’s their business. Wasting your time thinking about what they are thinking about you serves nothing. Seeking approval is a waste of your time and energy. It will only bring you suffering.”

This is an idea that resonates with many people. It feels liberating and it frees people from worry. All that really matters, according to this school of thought, is your own opinion about yourself. Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, other people’s opinions are actually incredibly important.

Why Reputation Matters – Online Reputation

Your reputation is hugely important, whether you are an individual or a business. And a reputation is, very simply put, the sum total of everybody else’s opinion about you. What you need to hope for is that an overwhelming majority of people see you in a positive light. However, this may not always be the case.

In certain aspects of life, it is actually not advisable to go through life maintaining that the opinion of other people doesn’t matter. This can be very damaging to your life, not necessarily in terms of your personal feelings of self-worth, but rather in terms of your future prospects. Because those are the prospects where other people will judge you, based on anything they can find out about you, i.e. your reputation.

The Importance of Reputation Management

Reputation management must start by understanding the importance of online reviews. The most recent 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey highlights this:

“84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business. 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.”

What the above tells you is that public opinion may not change the way you see yourself, but it will certainly change the way other people see you. That is why your online reputation is so important, and why you should work hard at maintaining it.

How Your Reputation Can Get Damaged – Online Reputation

The ways in which your reputation can get damaged are vast and varied. Some of them may be more surprising than others. They include:

You are not responding to negative criticism. People understand that not everybody can be happy all the time. However, people do not understand why you can’t respond professionally and with courtesy.
Slander and libel coming from disgruntled employees, ex-partners, online bullies, or trolls
Not having an online presence

The last item is something few people realize can be bad for their reputation. This is perhaps because technological developments have gone so quickly, that it seems hard to keep up. It seems like only yesterday that the majority of businesses didn’t even have a website or, if they did, it wasn’t interactive. It took almost no time for it to go from that, to people expecting that they can conduct all of their business with you through the power of the smartphone while they are traveling through an area thousands of miles away from you. If you do not have a strong online presence, customers will distrust you and feel you may have something to hide. Losing trust is the worst thing that can happen between a business and its customers.

Just How Important Is Your Positive Reputation?

Positive Reputation: The best way to look at your reputation is as if it is your shadow: you simply cannot get away from it. However, unlike a shadow, a reputation can actually hurt you, so it is very important that you understand what it is, and how you can improve it. There have been numerous studies about the importance of online reputation, and you simply cannot get away from it anymore.

The Importance of a Positive Reputation

When we think of reputation, we tend to think about individuals (also known as “street cred”) and businesses. However, it actually affects everything, even sports! This was demonstrated by a 2014 study by Braden King and Jerry Kim, from Northwestern University and Columbia University, respectively.

“This paper tests the assumption that actors’ status biases evaluators’ judgments made about those actors’ quality. Using unique data from Major League Baseball umpires’ evaluation of pitch quality, which allow us to observe the difference in a pitch’s objective quality and in its perceived quality as judged by the umpire, we show that umpires are more likely to over-recognize quality in high status pitchers and underrecognize quality in low status pitchers.”

What this demonstrates is that reputation affects every aspect of life, and that it often does so subconsciously. The umpires in the above study, for instance, genuinely believed that they made the right calls. Yet it seemed that they did still favor those players with better reputation.

Different Factors Influence Reputation & Positive Reputation

The next thing to consider is that there are many different factors that will influence reputation. One important factor is the factor of association, something that has been an issue since biblical times: someone’s reputation would be determined by who their parents were. This still happens today, in fact. Often, parents will not like their children having certain friends because of the parents of the latter, for instance. There is a huge variety of factors that can influence your reputation, both personally and professionally.

“Typically, in the workplace we care how key individual performers, managers, executives, change agents and management’s favorites behave. If you are under the microscope, every misstep will be magnified and discussed.”

Reputation Concerns

There is another issue as well, which is the one about how concerned you need to be about our reputation. It is about finding a balance. Presuming that you are a solid company or individual, with nothing to be ashamed of, you may come across as slightly suspect if you engage in an aggressive reputation management campaign. Interestingly, this is also something that has been with us since the beginning of times, and perhaps best worded by philosopher Marcus Aurelius:

“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others. If then a god or a wise teacher should present himself to a man and bid him to think of nothing and to design nothing which he would not express as soon as he conceived it, he could not endure it even for a single day. So much more respect have we to what our neighbors shall think of us than to what we shall think of ourselves.”

So does your reputation really matter?

Absolutely. Countless pieces of research have demonstrated this, in fact. But you also need to be careful about not overdoing it, and making people suspicious about your motives. It is a complex field to navigate, particularly when you understand just how important it actually is. This is why it is also best to leave reputation management to the professionals.