Keep Track of Your Online Reputation
Goal: Make tracking part of
your everyday routine.
Start by identifying the most likely places
online for your name to come up.
href="http://gs.statcounter.com/">Google dominates the search engine market,
and it’s also where the media looks first, according
to ad firm Universal McCann.
Identify blogs and forums within your professional circle, as well as
popular social networking sites that you, colleagues, or
competitors use. Then there are networking sites ― LinkedIn and Facebook
are frequently used to check character references, and Facebook tends to rank
high on Google, too.
Emerging social sites
such as Twitter are increasingly important because of their viral potential.
Twitter “makes it easy for people to quickly express their
inner monologue. And it is very easy for others to spread
it around,” says Andy Beal, co-author of Radically
Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online.
Last, ensure the biography on your corporate Web site is accurate and fair. Check corporate sites of places you’ve worked; it’s unhelpful to have outdated information online.
Once you’ve identified the sites
you want to monitor, set up alerts. You can set up
a Google alert at google.com/alerts for your full name. Subscribe
with your full name to Technorati.com, a blog search engine,
and BackType, a blog comment search engine, to reach blogs that Google alerts
may not cover. Twitter tools abound: Tweetdeck,
Thwirl, or TweetGrid are a few. Most have — or are building —
clients that work on smartphones such as the Apple iPhone and the BlackBerry,
and all let you tailor your searches so you can follow mentions of you in real
Another tool worth considering is
which lets you track what’s being said on Twitter via Microsoft
Outlook. Dan Schawbel, a personal brand specialist and author
of Me 2.0:Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, recommends Tweetbeat.com, which
gives you notifications through e-mail when people talk about you on Twitter.
What to Track
- Search engines: Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s
- Bing Blogosphere: Known blogs in your professional arena, or use blog search engines such as Technorati or Google Blog Search
- Forums: Known discussion threads in your professional arena
- Social networking sites: Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn
- Microblogging sites: Twitter, Jaikuand Plurk,
- Personal rating sites:
- Corporate Web sites: Your company, former places of work
Repair Your Online Reputation
Goal: Identify the nature of the attack and act
Monitoring the Web won’t prevent an
online attack. If you fall victim, don’t panic: Think before you
respond. “If it’s an isolated incident, and no one
has replied, you might consider letting sleeping dogs lie,” says Andy Beal. Likewise, Schawbel cautions against rising to the
bait: “If someone is deliberately attacking you for fun, or ‘trolling,’
then leave it alone. They only want the attention,” he says.
Analyze what’s been said about you.
If a blogger has their facts wrong, correct them ― most will quickly
amend their post. If the criticism’s true, apologize using the same
medium as the message. Give people a platform to complain to you where the
original complaint was posted or on your own blog. Your willingness to
engage is likely to win over the sceptics. It also reflects well on your own
If the attack on
you is a calculated campaign ― a post on a blog with a follow-up on Twitter ― then take
action. If you’re being attacked professionally, you should
alert the following:corporate stakeholders,
including your boss; the company press officer; and the legal department.
Deal with the matter informally first. If you
know the identity of your detractor, approach directly, offline. “You
don’t want to do this in the public domain,” advises Beal.
In most cases people will remove the offending item from the
blog or forum, but if they don’t, you can consider a
more public approach. Be open, constructive, conciliatory, and willing
to engage.Try something along these lines: Jim, I’ve already
spoken to you about this, and as you know, what you are saying about me is
inaccurate. I would like you to remove it. Meanwhile, if anyone out there
reading this has any questions, this is how to reach me.
If this approach fails and comments against you
are defamatory, you may need to speak to a lawyer.
One more thing: think before you fire off a
salvo to a co-worker online. If you need an example, consider this
innocuous Facebook exchange between “Yvonne” and her
manager, “Cheryl.” It takes on a new
and unflattering life on Lamebook, a site that highlights “lame and
funny” extracts from social networking sites for others to comment
Don't Mix Business and Leisure Online
Use separate social networking options for
work and play ― Facebook
for your friends and LinkedIn for professional contacts, for example. That way,
a personal spat is less likely to spill over into your professional life. “Post
a short explanation, saying: ‘I use this site for X or Y,’”
suggests Tiger Two’s Nancy Williams. And, obvious as it may sound,
you don’t have to accept everyone’s invitation to join your
Protect Your Online Reputation
Goal: Insulate yourself against attacks and build a
brand that reflects the professional you.
So we've discussed the cure, what about prevention? The answer
lies in building and maintaining your online brand. That way, any negative
commentary is not the only news about you. “If those negative
associations occur,” says John Purkiss, co-author of Brand You.
“You want people to think, “‘Well, that’s
absolutely out of character.’” You’ll put the
burden of proof on your attackers.
The first step is to effectively “buy
up” all the online property in your name. Whether or
not you’re active on Twitter, LinkedIn, or have plans to set up a Wordpress or Typepad blog, it is worth setting up accounts in each.
It is a defensive maneuver that,
at the very least, stops someone else owning and abusing
linkedin.com/joepublic, twitter.com/joepublic, joepublic.wordpress.com, and so
Next, identify advocates and encourage them to point to you
online. That may mean writing a LinkedIn recommendation, a mention on their
blog, or simply a link.
The more relevant the people with whom you’re
linked, the stronger your “link equity” ― and the
more likely you’ll appear on the first page of a Google search. Plus “it’s
a lot easier to respond if you have a community to rally around you,”
says Nancy Williams, founder of U.K.-based online reputation specialists
Be proactive. Offer to blog and write
articles about your specialist subjects for online publications that hit your
current and future business associates. Earn a reputation as a “player”
in your field. Get your name out there.
to Grips with SEO
If you want the positive to push out the negative on page one of Google,
learn about search engine optimisation (SEO), the art of increasing the search engine
traffic to your site or profile.
Some good places to start:
target="_blank">23 Strategies to Improve Your Website Traffic
href="http://www.web-inspect.com/improve-link-popularity.php" target="_blank">How to Improve Your Link Popularity
one last suggestion. If you are the author of your own downfall, try copying
scandal-hit 1960s politician John Profumo, whose humiliating
exit from politics was followed by a lifetime of philanthropy. Applying
a 21st century twist to the Profumo Principle, Purkiss says: “Do lots
of good stuff until the bad stuff is pushed to page six of Google.”