Online Reputation Management Tools
Why Your Online Reputation Is Important
How many times have you wanted to find out a piece of information only to decide the quickest and most trustworthy way was to turn to Google or Wikipedia? Well guess what? Google just ranks websites (which could be about anyone and anything) and Wikipedia’s content can be modified by anyone (but yes, I know they have moderators). Do you see how easy it is for someone to make a website or blog and write anything they wanted about you if they so wished? The information may or may not be true, but it would be about you and you would have little control over it.
Have you ever heard of employers doing reference checks on people they are looking to hire? Like everyone, Google would be the obvious first point of reference. What about if you had a really hot date and you wanted to do your own quick background check on them to make sure he/she wasn’t a killer? What if you came across a page (ranking high in Google) all about how he/she cheated in a previous relationship? It would be a bit of a turn off wouldn’t it?
In the United States, nearly 75% of the population are online. In Australia/Oceania the figure is close to 60% and 50% in Europe. Worldwide, we are talking about 1.7 billion people using the internet that could have access to this information. Don’t get scared, this hub is for you and it’s all about protecting your online reputation.
How My Online Reputation Was Compromised
Since around the time I joined HubPages, I’ve been delving deep into the power of the internet and the secrets that it holds. I haven’t scratched the surface yet. Just before that, I’d been in a weird short term relationship that provided a lifetime’s worth of emotions. It didn’t work out and I’d discovered afterwards that my ex had made a blog post about me. It was only about a paragraph long but free for the world to see.
It wasn’t really derogatory or anything. It was along the lines of “this is the most down to earth guy I know, really pleasant… but you’re an adult, start living the life you want otherwise you’re never going to grow up!” It was an ok post, but I’d rather not have something like that about me on the internet. Furthermore, some of my extended family didn’t know I was in a relationship at the time.
It’s a really mild case, but it woke me up to the fact that someone can make a website with my name in the URL (making it seem official) and a post about me (that I am unable to delete, because it’s their freedom of speech and was just voicing an opinion rather than blatant slander). I don’t want future dates to see it, despite that fact that it probably wouldn't be a big deal if they did. From that point on, I decided to take charge of my online reputation.
Online Reputation Management for Individuals
With the new wave of social media websites around, it’s more important than ever to make sure you protect your reputation online. Here are a couple of suggestions to help take back control of your online reputation:
Making your profiles private
These days, nearly everyone has a profile on at least one social networking site such as MySpace or Facebook. If you are getting random people posting comments on your wall or wanting to be your friend and you don’t know them, consider making your profile private by changing the security settings. This means that only people you’ve befriended or given permission to can see your information and interact with you. You can also change the settings so that your profiles are no longer visible on even the search engines.
Set up a Google Profile
Google Profiles were introduced in early 2009. It is a great service that allows you to control how you appear on Google and allows you to place links to all your other profiles in one location. Also, you could say there that only the links on your profile relate to official sources of information about you (this provides authenticity and you can say that all other websites do not contain accurate information or simply relate to another person who happens to have the same name). Set up your own Google profile. It is likely that in time, Google will place profiles in the top spot of search engine results when someone searches for your name.
Write under a pen name
If you’re a private person, why not write under a pen name? That way you can avoid unnecessary attention from stalkers online. It’s great for security and even better for freedom of speech. Just don’t abuse it. “Marco Fratelli” is taken, sorry!
Online Reputation Management for Business
All businesses should have an official website (even small businesses). Preferably, they should also have a blog which can be used to post promotions, make official announcements or reply to the public’s concerns about a product or service. Give customers a place to go to when they want to discover the official source of news for your product.
Monitoring Social Media
Twitter has exploded in popularity recently and is often the source of breaking news for events around the world, often being faster than CNN as everyone with a mobile phone can now become an eyewitness reporter. It is important for a business to always be aware of their public reputation. There are some great free third party tools that you can use to monitor your business. TweetDeck (desktop application) or Hootsuite (web based application) are my favorite to use. In them, you can set up columns that display tweets containing a certain keyword, which could be your product or company name. That way you can monitor what people are saying at all times and promptly respond by setting the record straight. Social media is extremely important these days to manage public relations.
Third Party Testimonials
Try to gather and use positive third party testimonials on your product websites. Funnily enough, one of the best places to obtain them online is also through social media (e.g. facebook wall comments or tweets from twitter). It is good practice to ask permission before using someone’s testimonial though, even though it might be on a public forum.
Reputation Management Tools
- 34 Online Reputation Management Tools
People, products and companies today all have two brands online and off. The problem with this is that the online brand may or may not sync with their offline marketing messages.
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