Chances are you Google your competition on a regular basis to see what they are up to and what customers have to say about them. But, how often do you do a quick search on yourself? If you have never done this, or only check in infrequently, this is a great opportunity to gauge your current temperature and pinpoint any potential issues.
What Are People Saying About You on Social Media?
While Minda Zetlin’s Inc. article “Why You Should Google Yourself Regularly (and What to Do About What You Find)” largely focuses on self-reputation management, the same tips and insights also apply to your small business.
Most people do not search for themselves online. Sponsored by domain extension Domain.me, 1,000 U.S. adults were surveyed on this very topic. The article states: “Among respondents, 24 percent of adults in general–and 43 percent of Millennials–said they’d been negatively affected by information about them online. When they did search themselves, 20 percent found inaccurate information, about 33 percent found their content had been shared without permission, and 12 percent said they were unpleasantly surprised at what they found.”
According to this same survey, many people are worried about what they will find if they go online. In fact, more than half of adults and more than two thirds of Millennials are concerned that information online could negatively affect their reputations. This has justification when you consider that most people today look for information about people online first with about 42% of general respondents and 57% of Millennials reporting they changed their minds about a friend or colleague after finding information online.
This online search applies to job hunting, too. According to a BestColleges.com article, “70 percent of recruiters have turned down candidates based on information found online, and 84 percent believe online information will affect hiring decisions all or most of the time over the next five years.”
Right now, about 60% of survey respondents say they never search themselves, and of the people that do 47% of them only check once or twice a year. Additionally, 7% have alerts set up for their names and 5% use reputation management software. However, there is a big difference in respondents that have already been harmed by online information; 77% of those people do regular online checks.
If you aren’t sure how to check yourself or your company, here’s how to start the process:
- Perform a regular search on your name or company.
- Scour social media for mentions. This may take an extensive amount of time, but check out all the places where content lives, including hashtags.
- Check online court records.
- Fix the issues. This is easier if you were the original content poster, but be patient for content that was posted by outside sources, and reach out directly to the individual or providers for the content removal process.
- Understand copyright violation. If someone posts your writing or photos without permission, you have authority to have it rightfully removed.
Creating Positive Search Results
The most important thing you can do for your reputation, especially for your brand, is to populate all of your visible online homes with positive content.
The first place to do this is on your own website and/or blog, which should be the top search result when people attempt to find you. After all, it’s one place where you can completely control the content. Include your accomplishments, your recent business wins, as well as your charitable work in the community.
Do the same on all your social media channels – it’s important to maintain a positive and optimistic persona. Even if you can’t remove all the damaging material that may be out there about you or your company, you can use positive press and content to push the negative material further down the visible search results.
What has your experience been with reputation management? Is this an ongoing and active part of your online strategy? What have you learned over the years in maintaining and strengthening your reputation?
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