How your online rep can make or break your business

How your online rep can make or break your business
This post was brought to you by .ME

In a world where information is at your fingertips, it is no surprise that the internet would be the first point for instant information about almost anything.

According to a survey by .ME, more than one in three millennials, believe that they are more likely to make a first impression online than at a party. This doesn’t come as a surprise considering that social media growth has skyrocketed over the past few years and has become a growing facet of one’s image.

We’ve all heard of the people being ‘dealt with’ due to bad online behaviour, and indeed 42 percent of Americans have changed their opinion about some based on online content. Contradictorily, even though it’s common behaviour to search on friends or potential love interests, only 60 percent of Americans have searched their own name and only one in five found a match with what they want the public to know about them.

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It becomes quite clear that a better managed online personal brand can help one achieve both personal and professional goals, and more than half of Americans believe that a personal website can help achieve this. However, one still has to be careful about the overall image presented online including press, social media and the rest of the blogosphere. It’s no use to have a stonking personal website to boot when all the press is howling with negative incidents concerning your behavior.

So here are some tips for making sure your online reputation stays in check:

Google yourself regularly or set your name up for a Google Alert

This exercise will make sure that you can keep up to speed on everything that is published about you.

Evan Speigel, had some dirty laundry during his fraternity days at Stanford published on Gawker by Sam Biddle two years ago. A series of emails from his Stanford address included him calling certain sorority girls ‘sororisluts’, peeing on a girl, thinking his TA is hot, and basically being a major sleaze.

Within two hours, Evan had a response published through Business Insider not only owning up to the deed, but also publicly apologising and expressing remorse for his ‘idiotic’ behavior as the social chair of the Kappa Sigmas. As a result, Sam Biddle put the response article in the comments section so that people can see the full picture of the story.

Respond to content where you’re mentioned

It can only benefit you to verify or deny certain public pieces of information, or at least react to it.

The fact that Evan Spiegel actually acknowledged and apologized publicly was seen as a good move. Furthermore, the speediness of Evan’s response made sure that the news didn’t spiral out of control without his apologetic comment not being read, portraying a better side of him that the emails doesn’t reflect who is at the time of response or his views towards women.

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Consequently, Snapchat is still doing well and is valuated at around $16B as of November 2015.

In contrast, Monica Lewinsky kept silent for 10 years and was suicidal during the investigations into her affair with Bill Clinton. Although, she came out clean and strong to serve as an inspiration to anyone who is being ‘cyberbullied’ be it a mistake or not, she still had to suffer through a lot of pain and the public didn’t get to hear her side of the story for a long time.

Claim your own domain name

Nowadays, claiming your own personal domain is very easy, you don’t even have to be a geek to do it. With the help of sites like .ME, which takes you straight to a registrar where you can buy that particular domain, the buying process is similar to any other online store.

If you want your personal site to come up when people search for your name, make your domain a firstnamelastname.me URL so that it will show in search results for your name.  In addition to prospective clients being able to easily find you online, it also bumps any unflattering content about you further down the search results.

And in a world where anyone can post anything about anybody else, isn’t it nice to know there’s one place people can go that features information you have control over?

Make your personal site look pretty and accessible

According to various studies, making your content more visual will make it 94 percent more appealing. Also, don’t forget to make it mobile friendly as people may Google you right there and then as your name comes to mind or is mentioned.

Ted Murphy’s personal site for example, looks neat, professional and visually appealing. On top of that, he has a nice biography in the About Me section which includes press coverage, and a blog containing his personal thoughts and opinions about various things he finds interesting.

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Show off previous or current work if possible

Ted Murphy shows off his photography and speaking ordeals on his website and it doesn’t seem out of place. Similarly, Danny Brown shows off his books and a link where you can buy them without seeming arrogant. A personal site or a social media post is a socially acceptable form of tooting your own horn so that people may know of your feats. Consider it your new and improved resume – featuring everything you can do.

So there you have it, managing your online reputation need not be a lot of time and hassle. It only becomes hell if you get into a scandal, otherwise, it should be pretty smooth sailing for you.

Read next: How to stop bad press from ruining your online reputation

Image credit: Gratisography 

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