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10 Vital Rules to Manage Your Online Reputation

As PR’s and business communicators, many of us manage the online reputations of our clients and employers. We’re the ones setting up the monitoring tools, watching for online mentions and helping create the strategies to respond to negative mentions.

Online Reputation Management

We may be familiar with the practices used to manage a brand’s reputation and to create the crisis communications plans and flowcharts, but are we doing this for ourselves?

Probably not. We get busy, life is hectic, and it’s easy to lose sight of managing our own reputations.

Yet reputation management is imperative today, for brands and organizations—and for individuals like you and me. As Warren Buffett famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Criticism and slander travel faster than a speeding bullet in cyberspace. In today’s digitally connected world, your reputation proceeds you in an instant and can impact every aspect of your life. Being proactive, taking the steps to monitor and manage it, is just smart.

Social media makes us rethink the targeted channels, types of messages and the format of the communication, along with who should participate. The possibility of crisis spreading rapidly through the social channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) has professionals thinking ahead to prevent, manage and protect the brand’s reputation,” states Deidre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance Communications and founder of the Twitter #prstudchat.

Here are 10 vital rules to help you manage your online reputation today.

1. Always do your best.

Whether it’s work or volunteering, always do your best. Be consistent. The respect you build among colleagues, employers, friends and family will stand you in good stead—online or offline.

2. Be honest.

Be honest and straight forward in your online communications. This doesn’t mean tell everything, but don’t allow yourself to be ensnared in a lie or half-truth. It’s too easy for people to dig and find the truth.

3. Know who you are and how you come across to others.

Think through your goals and objectives. What are you trying to accomplish online? How do you come across online? How do you want to be perceived? Some people use their online communications for entertainment and staying in touch with family and friends. Others are focused on building a strong personal brand that will help them professionally.

Online Reputation Management - Reputation

4. Identify the keywords that support your online efforts.

Take the time to figure out the keywords you want to have associated with your online persona. Use those in your updates and in the content you share and curate.

5. Own your own name.

Do the research and secure your own name across the social web. Buy the URL for a blog or website even if you have no immediate plans of using it to prevent someone else from grabbing it. Check user names for social sites and secure your own name where possible.

6. Publish thoughtfully.

We are all publishers today and your Facebook updates, tweets and YouTube videos are content you are publishing that reflect who you are and what you stand for. Don’t use language or imagery that will reflect badly. On the contrary, curate and create content that will help build your online persona as someone with integrity, and intelligence. Back up your statements with examples from your own experience.

7. Monitor what people are sharing.

Pay Attention - Online Reputation ManagementSet up simple systems for staying on top of what people are sharing about you. Pay attention to the photos and videos that include you. Have anything negative or potentially embarrassing removed right away. Check your social network settings to make sure you review tags before allowing them. Listen for conversations that include you and, take arguments and disagreements offline as quickly as possible.

Need help monitoring social media and the news? See how the Vocus PR Suite can help. Take a demo!

8. Showcase your strengths.

Use your social profiles to showcase the things you do well. Upload examples of your best work to your LinkedIn profile. Tweet links to the articles and posts you’ve written, interviews or media mentions you’ve garnered. Treat your Google+ and LinkedIn profiles like online business cards. Make sure they portray you to your best advantage.

9. Be helpful.

“Build your reputation by helping other people build theirs.” — Anthony J. D’Angelo

Use what you know and what you’ve learned to help others. As you go forward you’ll develop your own community of people who think highly of you and who will jump to your defense should anything go wrong online.

10. Avoid trolls.

Trolls are the people who lie in wait to make trouble online. They thrive on conflict and live to bully others. In an online argument, check the criticism for any truth and see if you can take the discussion offline. If the person arguing is unreasonable and unwilling to stop, ignore them. You may end up having to unfriend, unfollow and even block them. Don’t feed the trolls.

Finally? Ask for help. Online reputation management is a thriving industry today. There are many resources available to you if something happens and you find yourself unable to resolve the situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your investment in protecting your own good name will pay off professionally and personally.

Allen Mireles is a strategist with an affinity for technology who lives/works at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing/public relations. Want to read more from Allen? Click here!

Image: BK, F DelventhalOne Way Stock (Creative Commons)

About Allen Mireles

Allen Mireles is a strategist and wordsmith with an affinity for technology. She lives at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing and public relations and never gets enough time in the garden. Find her on Twitter @allenmireles.

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