These days, it's imperative to put your best digital foot forward by maintaining a positive online image. If you haven't thought about it before, perhaps it's time to take a hard (honest) look at how you're managing your online reputation.
Consider this: According to the 2011 Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker survey, 87 percent of consumers said positive online reviews reinforced their decision to purchase a recommended product or service. (This figure is up from 67 percent in 2010.) The 2010 Microsoft Cross-Tab survey found similar results, with 85 percent of recruiters and human resources professionals saying that a positive online reputation influences decision-making in the workforce.
With something as important as online reputation management, where do you begin? After all, just one unflattering Instagram or Facebook photo, and you may not get a call for that interview. And just one bad review or negative news article can mean the loss of thousands of dollars (and customers) for your company.
"We don't have a lot of control about what others say about us, but we have a lot of control about what we say about ourselves and our company," says Todd William, CEO of Reputation Rhino, an online reputation management company in New York. "I strongly encourage individuals and companies to actively engage in social media, blogging and proactive public relations like press releases, networking and charitable activities."
So, how do you get started? Here's a list:
• Google your name to see where you stand and what people are saying about you.
• Create a complete profile on popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
• Participate actively in online communities.
• Publish positive reviews of satisfied clients or customers.
• Monitor social media mentions for your name or business.
• Use SEO (search engine optimization) to make sure positive content comes up first for your name or business.
The bad news is that online reputation management can be a lot of work and worry. Do you have the time, energy or necessary expertise?
If you answered "No," the good news is that help is out there. Today's businesses and busy professionals are turning to online reputation management companies.
"Online reputation management is the art and science of creating a positive first impression when someone is looking for your or your company online," says William. "Online reputation management can remove or suppress negative search results, optimize positive online content, outrank complaint and review sites and fight libel and online defamation."
For more information, visit www.reputationrhino.com.