In the book Trust Inc. Strategies for Building your Company’s most Valuable Asset, Robert Easton notes that "trust is an essential agent of social development and organisational sustainability. It operates in, and allows for, the intricate web of interaction between individuals, institutions, communities and society. We use words like “the glue”, “catalyst”, “energizer” and “connector” to describe trust. Yet most trust dialogue in today’s world is about the trust deficit.
95% of people consult the internet before using the services of a company. And 72% of people trust reviews online. Online reputation management is not just another buzzword. It is not only about boosting your reputation, brand or business but also about protecting it against online attacks.
If you are an entrepreneur, a CEO, a politician, a journalist, a celebrity or just a citizen, there is a risk of digital assassination. We have seen online attacks ruin the lives of people and end in suicides; employees disseminating fraudulent information about their employers; false online press releases with a negative impact on the evaluation of stocks of companies.
Coco Chanel once said, “Luxury lies not in the richness of things but in the absence of vulgarity.” In their book The New Digital Age, Google top executives, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen note that in the near future, we will see a growth of organisations that cater to privacy and reputation concerns. This industry already exists with online reputation companies like Brandyourself.com using a range of techniques to remove or dilute unwanted content from the internet. Most of these tactics fall under the umbrella of SEO processes.
In the Star Wars film the “Return of the Jedi”, Darth Vader says to his son Luke Skywalker: “You underestimate the power of the Dark Side.” Never underestimate the cost of a poor reputation. Many executives fail to understand how poor online reputation management can damage the activities of their organisations.
Nevertheless, there are some things you can do by yourself before asking the help of specialised companies. You can, for example, create your own content and optimise your profiles in order to push less positive content down to the third page in Google search results.
Here are five tips for sustainable online reputation management for leaders:
Buy your domain name
On a site like GoDaddy.com you can buy the essential domains with your name in it. Even if you do not plan to build a website right now, you still prevent others from taking this from you or using it against you in the future.
Search yourself on Google
Do a search for your name on Google and Google images. Setting-up a Google alert on your name or the name of your organisation is a good idea so you can keep track of any new content. You can choose to have notifications mailed to you once per day.
Build a presence on social media
Create profiles on the most important social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. Even if you feel like you have no time to be active on these sites, it is a very good idea to have these profiles. You don’t have to be active every day but it is good to add new content at least once a week. That can be something about your daily life, a picture or an article that you like. If you are a company, you need first to familiarise with how your organisation can best use each platform. Also, it is important that you choose the social media that work best for your business.
Create a personal website
Having an own website is an excellent way to centralise everything that is important. You can create a website, write a short bio about yourself and put it together with your contact information and blog all in one place. Also, there is nothing better than having your site appear when people search your name. It’s the best way to direct potential stakeholders to the information that matters most.
Keep an active blog
Regardless if you are a small business or a multinational company, blogging should be integral to your online content marketing strategy. Blogging can present you as a real leader in your industry and bring you in contact with people that can support your career or business in a positive way. It can drive traffic to your website and develop better stakeholder relations.