3 Ways to Build Your Brand Through Reputation Management

Brand building is a term thrown around at a lot of marketing firms and internet startups. But when was the last time you actually heard someone define “brand building” in a real, tangible way? What does it really mean?

Let’s start with the meaning of “brand.” Your brand is the way that people relate to your products, services, and company as a whole. Essentially your brand is a set of images, stories, and emotions that people associate with your company. Thus, your customers define your brand through what they say, think, and feel about your company. And you can guide the public perception of your company through any number of avenues, like advertising, social media, word-of-mouth, charity work, and more: in other words—brand building. And when it comes down to it, reputation management should go hand in hand with brand building because they’re part of the same strategy to influence people’s perception of your company for the better.

In fact, they’re so closely related that when you are doing one, you should be doing the other at the same time. Take at a look at the ways that both brand building and reputation management share the same goals.

1. It’s about communication

Bad brand building is about campaigns. Good brand building is about fostering a relationship with your customers. And that goes the same for reputation management. The most successful brands build a simple and consistent image for themselves over many years; they don’t simply change every time a new fad comes along. The same is true for good reputation management. You have to stick with it and be consistent, or negative information and bad reviews will creep into your search results. But if you are consistent with your reputation management, you’ll be communicating a positive message to potential customers anytime they search for your band online.

2. Tell a story

Great bands have great stories. And I’m not just talking about a great founding story, but a story people feel every time they think about your brand. For example, when you think about Nike, you think about winning. Winning is a story. The same should go for your reputation management. When you optimize the search results for your company name, keep in mind that you can’t fill the page with all positive information about how great your company is. Instead, you have to build a story around your company by focusing on a variety of messages and platforms. Positive information, neutral information, press releases, news stories, videos, social media profiles, and more—when a potential customer searches your company online, they should see a variety of materials that tell each bit of your company story. When they see a variety of information and links, they’ll feel more confident about trusting you, and you’ll be getting your messaging to them and building your brand at the same time.

3. Stay consistent

Unsuccessful companies change their brand messaging every quarter. This confuses customers who don’t know what to think about the brand and its every-changing personality. On the other hand, successful companies stick with their brand image for a long time. Again, look at Nike. How long has their slogan been, “Just Do It”? Probably for as long as you can remember. That’s the kind of consistency you should be building with your reputation management strategy as well. Make sure that the positive and neutral information you are filling your search result page with are in-line with your company brand. When customers search for your company online, they should have the same experience they’ve had through your advertisements—even if they haven’t clicked through to your website yet.

Reputation management IS building your brand. When customers search your company name online, they will begin to form opinions about your brand according to what they see in the search results. Remember, it’s the perception that your customers have of you that defines your brand, not necessarily your marketing efforts. So get out ahead of the pack by creating a reputation management strategy that connects with your customers. Because if you don’t define your reputation, someone else will.

How Reputation Management Helps Strengthen Corporate Communication

Sometimes it feels like running a successful business is an intricate orchestra of cogs and wheels, belts and springs—kind of like the inner workings of a watch. And those parts have to be perfectly aligned and moving in the right ways in order for your business to run well and succeed. But just like the intricate machinery of a watch, if your business takes too big of a jolt it could throw everything off.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to all the little things that, if not taken care of, could throw your business off track. For example, not having an effective reputation management strategy in place can adversely affect your corporate communication. As a business, your corporate communication should reflect dependability, credibility, stability, and overall coherence. Without these qualities, your shareholders, investors, customers, and employees can get nervous about your business and may be less likely to invest their time and money in your company.

The Effects of Bad Reputation Management

Effective reputation management can project a fantastic image for your company, but without a reputation management strategy in place, small cracks in your watch crystal can seem out of proportion and cause nervousness and loss of confidence from all parties. And this loss of confidence can affect your entire business:

Shareholders: When your top executives and investment companies see that your online rankings are filled with so-called “scam reports” and negative information—even if they are complete fabrications—the people who have a large stake in your company’s success can begin to lose faith in its leadership. And that’s when people start making rash decisions and second guessing each other to the detriment of the company.

Investors: The same goes for individual investors. If they begin to see negative online search results for your company, they’ll begin to sell shares and stop investing, causing your overall business value to decrease.

Customers: Negative search results will turn away potential customers and make current customers rethink their loyalty to your brand.

Employees:  When employees see that the company they work for has a bad online reputation, they begin to lose confidence in the company, care less about their job performance, and may begin to look for work elsewhere. No one wants to work for a company with a bad reputation.

The Positive Effects of Successful Reputation Management

However, building a positive and strong reputation management strategy can reverse the negative affects of bad search results, pushing negative information down and pulling positive information up.

Shareholders: Positive online search results give shareholders confidence and a positive outlook for your business, and major investment groups will be more hands-off with their approach to your company.

Investors: With no negative search results apparent, investors feel secure in continuing their investment in your company and will trust you to increase their profits.

Customers: Negative search results can drive customers away, but a positive search results page for your company can build confidence in your company and bring in more customers and referrals.

Employees: It’s been proven time and time again that employees who feel their company is run well and is improving the lives of the people it deals with are happier in their jobs and less likely to leave—even for a higher paying position. This decreases turnover and boosts employee morale, creating a happier, more motivated workforce.

Broken Windows Theory

There’s a theory in law enforcement called the “Broken Windows Theory.” It states that the more broken windows you see in a neighborhood, the more crime will happen there. However, if you fix the broken windows, crime will decrease, because criminals will see it’s a neighborhood where people take care of their houses and property, so criminals will be less likely to target it. This theory was one of the main factors in cleaning up New York City in the late 80s and early 90s, making New York one of the safest cities in the US.

In a way, reputation management is like taking care of the broken windows in your search results. If you can clean up the neighborhood of your search results, you‘ll build confidence in everyone who is involved in your business and at every level. Overall, Reputation management will strengthen your corporate communications and make your business thrive.

4 Ways Your Company’s Online Reputation Affects Your Sales

As a sales professional, it’s your job to get your customers to buy your company’s products and services. And your job is easier if customers come to you with a positive view of your company and your products. You are the face and the voice of the company and your customers will buy from you based on how well you treat them and how much they trust you.

But when customers come to you with a negative view of your company and its products—or have preconceived notions about how you’ll try and scam them into buying your products—you’ll have a much harder time doing your job. That’s one of the reasons reputation management should be a vital concern for all sales professionals.

Today, it’s easy for anyone with internet access to look up your company, find reviews, and read both positive and negative information about your company. And as a sales person, you should be concerned about the way your company is portrayed online. In fact, here are 4 ways a negative online reputation can affect your sales.

1) It scares away customers

First and foremost, if you have a negative online reputation (due to bad reviews, so-called “scam” reports, or negative online rants), the number of people who want to buy from you will decrease rapidly. Simply put: you’ll have less people coming to your store, visiting your website, or calling you on the phone.

2) It creates bad word-of-mouth

Negative information about your company online doesn’t just affect those who are searching for you. It affects the family and friends of people who have searched your company name online. If potential customers have already formed an opinion about your company based on search results, they are likely to pass that negative opinion on to others. Your online reputation isn’t just about protecting yourself from online attacks, it’s about strengthening your reputation online and off.

3) Customers are less willing to buy

Sales is a hard job to begin with, but when all your customers are coming to you with doubts about you and your company, it’s even harder. Even if they are still willing to buy from you after reading negative reviews, they will be more skeptical of your sales tactics and will want more assurances that they can trust you and your company’s products. All in all, with a negative view of your company, customers are much harder to sell to.

4) Customers are more likely to be dissatisfied with their purchase

Once a red flag has been raised in the customer’s mind, they will be more critical of the products they buy from you and are more likely to be dissatisfied with their purchase. Although you may think that returns are not your problem, each return results in a loss of profit and another dissatisfied customer who will share their opinion with their friends and family.

Reputation management is about more than simply optimizing a Google search for your name so you can get positive results It’s about building a positive image for your company—a trustworthy and positive image that instills confidence in your potential customers about the kind of service they will receive and the quality of the products you sell. Reputation management isn’t just the concern of the company executives; it affects everyone at your company. If you’ve been having a harder time selling, or you’ve had fewer customers than usual, do a search for your company online. You may be in need of some positive reputation management.

3 Reasons Marketing Professionals Should Be Aware of Their Company’s Online Reputation

Although the sales team may close each sale, they owe a large part of each sale to the creativity and hard work of the marketing team. And today, marketing is both easier and harder than ever. Thanks to the rise of the internet and the high number of people online, marketers have tools and avenues open to them for contacting and interacting with customers that they never have before. Using strategies like search marketing and tools like social media, marketing professionals can decrease their budgets and increase their customer base at the same time.

However, there is also a downside. It is now easier than ever for individual customers to access negative information about your company online. And it is also easier for any dissatisfied customer to write an untruthful or damaging review of your company’s products or services and persuade other customers to shy away without even getting to know your business.

This ease of access to negative information about your company is the main reason your marketing department should be concerned about your company’s online reputation. But more than that, here are three reasons the marketing department should get involved in reputation management.

1. Customers don’t have to dig deep

As mentioned before, thanks to the ease of access to information in today’s society, customers don’t have to look very far to find out about your company’s reputation or be misled by an angry review on a former customer’s blog. In many cases, if a potential customer searches for your company name online and they see one or two negative results, they may never even visit your website—where you’ve put all marketing messages, ready to convert them. But by paying attention to your online reputation and employing a solid reputation management strategy, you can get as many people to your website as possible.

2. Customers read reviews

Did you know that when a potential customer searches for your company name online and they see negative reviews in the results, they are more likely to click and read the negative reviews first, before visiting your official website? Customers read reviews—especially bad ones. And they tend to believe them. If you have negative reviews showing up on the first page of a Google search for your company name, it’s already hurting your business. So now is the time to look into effective reputation management strategies and push those negative reviews down.

3. Customers purchase on trust

If a customer doesn’t trust your company, they won’t buy from you—even if you have the lowest price. That’s why it is vitally important for you to remove any obstacle out of your customers’ way. When your customers are searching or you online and seeing negative content, the seed is planted in their mind that your company may not be trustworthy. But the truth is, you are. You just need to co a little clean up so your customers don’t get the wrong impression before they even learn more about you.

As a marketer, you are not just making sure your customers know your name, you are also building a brand as well as emotions and values associated with that brand. You don’t want a few negative reviews to destroy the image you’ve worked so hard to create. Take a look at your online reputation today and, if you need to, start thinking about reputation management strategies you can employ to safeguard your company’s reputation from all kinds of online attacks.

3 Reputation Management Tips for Network Marketing Companies

Although some network marketing companies have earned a bad rap with the public, many companies, like Mary Kay, Avon, Tupperware, and more, have provided wonderful opportunities for people to earn a great income doing something that they love and learning valuable business and marketing skills along the way. But this type of business opportunity isn’t for everyone, and there are (inevitably) people who start network marketing for the wrong reasons and end up not doing very well at it.

From time to time a few of those who feel that it was the company’s fault that their business wasn’t successful will go online and post rants and negative reviews. Unfortunately, that means those negative reviews and rants can show up in a Google search for your network marketing company’s name, dissuading potential independent marketers from starting a business that could help them supplement their income and live more comfortably.

Not only are they missing out on a great opportunity, but those negative reviews are also chasing away your profits. So as a network marketing company, it’s important to put a reputation management strategy in place, so that you can continue to have a positive image with the public and keep people from being turned off by your company before they even sign up. And since your business is all about networking, you can leverage that network to help improve your online reputation. In fact, here are three ways that a network marketing company can use its network to improve and maintain a positive online reputation.

1) Start Social Networking Campaigns

Social networking through Facebook, Twitter, and more, have increased dramatically over the past 5 years, and you can leverage these networks on a company-wide scale to improve your online reputation. The point of reputation management online is to improve the results page for a Google search for your company name, and by creating official company social networking profiles, you are providing Google with another result to list in the top 10.

But in order for your social profiles to rank, they need to have a high number of fans/followers, and those followers need to be active. Since these profiles are easy to set up and maintain, it behooves any networking marketing company to maintain a strong social presence online. Ask all your networking marketers to follow you on your social profiles and provide them with interesting and informative links and content. When you can keep your followers engaged, your social profile will be more active and will more likely show up in a Google search for your company name.

2) Ask for reviews

You have thousands of independent marketers, and many of those have had great success selling your products and services. In addition, you have many more customers who like what you provide to them through independent marketers. All you have to do is start asking your most successful marketers and happy customers to review you online. They can review you through sites like Yelp and City Search, but you can also ask your independent marketers and customers to blog about their experience with your company and why they love what you do.

When you have an army of people giving you positive reviews online, those positive reviews will begin to show up in Google searches, pushing out more negative reviews about your company and improving your online reputation.

3) Provide incentives

Although you may have many enthusiastic marketers who want to write positive reviews for you, you can increase the number of people who are writing reviews and interacting on your social networks by providing incentives and contests. For example, hold a regular contests on your Facebook page and give away free merchandise for people who comment or share links the most. Or give away free credit or a gift card to any marketer who writes a positive review on their personal blog.

As a network marketing company, you have an entire organization you can mobilize to improve your online reputation. Instead of trying to do everything yourself, leverage the power of your organization to create and maintain a positive reputation and boost the power of your reputation management strategy.

Removing Negative Content: Tips for Contacting Site Owners and Improving Your Online Reputation

If you a run a company of any size that deals directly with members of the public, chances are you will eventually have a customer who—for some reason or another—will not like your service or products and decide to defame you online. In fact, you should count on it. And no matter if they decide to give you a bad review or write a lengthy rant on their personal blog, those negative comments can end up hurting your online reputation by showing up on a search results page for your business.

Although there is some content that you will never be able to remove from the internet because the site owners have made it impossibly hard to find any contact information for them. There are some instances where you have a chance at protecting your online reputation simply by contacting the customer, opening a dialogue, and asking for the comments to be removed (or changed).

If this has happened to you, and it is hurting your online reputation, here are a few tips to dealing with a person who has published negative comments about you online.

1. Be polite and apologize

It doesn’t matter if you were in the right and they were in the wrong. What matters is that they perceive that they have been mistreated or disrespected in some way. So, before you do anything else, apologize and be polite about the situation. Treating the customer with respect will go a long way to helping change their mind about your company. And when you are polite, you open a door toward communication, which will help you change their mind about your company and recant their comments.

2. Don’t argue

Although it may be tempting, don’t argue with the customer. They already feel powerless, or they wouldn’t have written negative comments about you in the first place instead of contacting you directly to resolve their issue. So don’t make them feel like you are trying to win an argument. That attitude will only add fuel to the fire, and you’ll never be able to remove the negative content.

3. Offer to fix the problem

Once you’ve been polite and created a dialogue with the customer—slowly rebuilding their trust in you and your company—offer to fix the problem. Depending on your business, you can offer to exchange their defective product, give them their money back, offer them extra goodies like free products or services, or offer to fix the problem in a way that only your company can.

4. Add value

If you really want to win over your dissatisfied customer and encourage them to remove their negative comments, go above and beyond fixing their problem. If they don’t like the product you sold them, offer to replace the one they have with a better model and give them another on top of it. The more you can do to go out of your way to make this customer feel like you are genuinely sorry and willing to do whatever it takes to make them happy, the more inclined they will be to help you.

5. Ask their advice

As mentioned before, many people post rants online because they feel powerless in some respect and think that they best way to vent their anger is online. Many times these people simply want you to listen to them and understand what they are going through. In all cases, seek the customer’s advice, so you can be sure to avoid these problems in the future. When you do that, you give your customers the chance to be part of making your company better. And this may be the most powerful tool you have in turning an enemy into an ally.

Reputation Management Strategies

Most bloggers will post contact information or a contact form on their website so you can get in touch with them easily. And many review sites will let reviewers send messages to each other. But in many cases you will not be able to contact the person who wrote the comments directly, and may have no way to contact them at all. Or they may not want to respond to your request to fix the problem for their own reasons.

In extreme cases when someone has published slanderous information about you or your company online, you can take legal recourse and eventually remove the page from the Google index. But this is very hard to do, and Google won’t remove any web pages considered slanderous unless they are directed to do so under court order.

This is why reputation management is so important. Although contacting site owners and reviewers directly should be part of your online reputation management strategy, you should also implement other reputation management tactics to push negative content down and bring positive and neutral information about your company up in the search engine results pages. But whenever possible, contacting dissatisfied customers directly should be a first step in resolving reputation management issues.

Reputation Management Options for Dealing with So-called “Scam” and “Rip-off” Websites

It happens all the time. When you search for a company to find out more about them, often times you’ll see a “scam” report or a “rip-off” alert with a link to a website that purports to give consumers and former employees a way to rant about their bad experience with a company. Often, these scam sites rank well in the search results, and if you are the company in question, your company reputation can be damaged by the rants and outright lies that a site like this spreads. So how do these sites work, and how can you deal with the problems they create? Let’s take a look.

Scams and Lies

First off all, it’s important to understand that although these sites offer a way for disgruntled employees and unsatisfied customers to talk about their experience with a particular company, the site itself benefits from the negative reviews that are published. Therefore they have no reason to verify or censor any of the user-submitted content on their site. In fact, the policy of many of these sites is to NEVER remove a bad review—even at the request of the person who wrote it.

And it has been alleged in numerous court cases that these sites will often fabricate bad reviews or edit user reviews to appear more damaging to the company they profess to review. However these are only allegations, and nothing has ever been proved in court. The reason that sites like these do not want to remove false information and benefit from inflammatory reviews is that their sites are paid for with advertising. Therefore, the more site traffic they get, the more money they make. And the more inflammatory a bad review, the more traffic it will get—especially if it is for a popular or well-known company.

Arbitration Options

Although many of these sites will refuse to remove any content from their site—even if it contains outright lies about a company—some offer an arbitration service. These arbitration services cost $2000 or more and claim to let independent reviews look at the “scam report” and verify whether or not erroneous claims have been made. If false statements are found, they will redact portions of the review that are found to be inaccurate. But the hefty fee does not guarantee removal of any false information. And even a few sentences are removed from an offending review, the bulk of the review will stay online.

Lawsuits

It’s hard to sue scam and rip-off alert websites. This is because all the content on the sites is supposedly user-generated and not created by the site owners or their employees. And one cannot sue a website for statements made by a third party on that site. (For example, no one can sue you for an inflammatory comment on your blog made by one of your readers—which is a good thing.) Many companies and individuals have filed lawsuits against these websites, but few have succeeded in winning a court settlement. And when you consider that a lawsuit against a website like this may cost you a hundred thousand dollars or more to resolve, it hardly seems worth it for a case you have little chance of winning.

Reputation Management

But this is where good reputation management comes in. No matter how unethical these scam and rip-off alert sites can be, you have just as good a chance of beating them at their own game. Scam sites optimize their reviews for the web so that they will show up when a user searches for a company name, but by using a solid reputation management strategy, you can make sure those reviews never show up in a Google search.

Reputation management is much cheaper than fighting the scam website in court and may actually yield better results. Even if you are able to get defamatory items removed from a review, the review will still stay on the web with all its negative accusations against your company. Reputation management can bury that review so deep that most casual searchers will never see any of it.

Scam and Rip-off sites are a pain and a nuisance, and rarely give any useful information to consumers. But with an effective, positive reputation management strategy, you can win every time.

 

Using News to Strengthen Your Reputation Management Strategy

Stop the presses! Reputation management isn’t just about promoting positive information about your company. In fact, if your reputation management strategy has consisted of solely filling the first page of a Google search with gushing reviews and company-sponsored blog posts about how wonderful your company is, you’re missing the point of reputation management altogether.

Natural Search Results

The point of reputation management isn’t just to make your company look good when someone searches for it online. It’s about creating a search engine results page that looks as natural as possible without focusing on misinformation or negative reviews. In fact, if a Google search for your company name looks too positive, people will think it’s been manipulated. And they’ll look elsewhere for more information on your company. That’s why you need to include both positive and neutral, third-party information and web content in your reputation management strategy. And one of the best ways to get that third party, neutral information is through the news media.

Harnessing the power of news outlets online can give you a more natural-looking search page, one that will nonetheless give searchers a varied set of search results. For example, here are three ways you can harness the power of the news to create a more natural looking results page.

1) Press Releases

One way to add to the variety of your results page is to publish a few press releases. Press releases can be expensive to publish through wire agencies, but they very easily show up on the web. You can create press releases for your successes, but you can also create press releases that are more informational.

Usually, the point of a press release is to get the attention of media outlets and compel them to do a story on your company. But that does not have to be your goal. You can just as easily get a press release out on the web that discusses the hiring of a new member of your executive team or other neutral information. Then you can promote the press release on a site other than your own to help it appear in the search results.

When your press release appears in the search results, searchers will see that it is information that is not posted on your own site, and it will look more natural, which, in turn, will give your company a positive results page that boosts confidence in the searchers mind.

2) News Stories

You don’t have to be the #1 company in your city—or create the next iPad—to get some news coverage. All you have to do is get your company name mentioned in a news story somewhere and it can be used to populate a results page for your company. For example, stay in contact with your local media outlets and let them know when you do something that might be interesting to your local community.

For example, create an opportunity to give service to your community, and invite a local reporter to come along and observe. Things like helping rebuild a local park, starting a food drive in your community, or donating something useful to the city, are all actions that might interest your local media and could get your name in print (both on paper and on the web).

In addition, offer up yourself and your company as experts who can be consulted on news stories. When a news story comes along that is in some way related to your industry, you can give your expert opinion and your company’s name can get mentioned in the story.

3) Business Listings

Like I said, you don’t have to be newsworthy to be featured on the news—or at least a news website. Many local newspapers and television networks have websites with sections devoted to finding local businesses. Often times a listing may be free, but you may also have to pay a yearly or monthly fee. Include your business name and contact information as well as a short blurb about your company. Google likes displaying results from news websites, and if you optimize it the right way, you can get that business listing in the search results, giving a more natural feel to your results.

It’s News to Them

When people search for your company name online and they see a variety of results from a variety of trusted sources, like news sites, they’ll build confidence in your company. But having a results page that is too filled with positive information may turn a potential customer off, because they’ll think they’re not getting the full picture. Harnessing the power of the news can help improve your online reputation and give you credibility at the same time.

 

Track Your Reputation: 3 Tools for Reputation Management Online

Reputation management isn’t just about creating a great Google results page for your brand name. Although that’s a lot of it, it’s also very important to monitor what people are saying about your company online. Since virtually all of today’s information flows through the internet, and it has become the most widely used platform for sharing information globally, if anyone says anything about your company through a blog, social networking site, or any media outlet, you’ll eventually be able to find it on the internet.

And you need to know what people are saying about you as quickly as possible. Because information travels so fast in today’s world, you don’t have the luxury of waiting around until a bad review comes to you; you need to find bad reviews and negative mentions of your company as soon as possible. If you can jump on a problem quickly, the more time you’ll have to quell the situation or adjust your reputation management strategy accordingly. So it’s vitally important to the future of your company that you monitor the web for any mention of your brand (both good and bad), so you can use that information to improve your search rankings and keep your online reputation spotless.

3 Tools

Here are a few tools you can use as part of your reputation management strategy to monitor the internet and be alerted to mentions of your company as soon as possible:

1) Google Alerts

First and foremost, you need to understand and use Google Alerts. Google Alerts is a free tool you can customize to quickly find out when new instances of your company name appear on the internet. Once you have a Google account, you can go to www.google.com/alerts and set up a keyword you would like to get alerts on. Primarily, this should be the name of your company or brand. Then you can customize your alerts to fit the frequency and amount of information you want to be alerted to.

Google Alerts are sent to your email when Google detects a new instance of your company name, along with a link to the webpage where your company is mentioned. Once you have that information, you can use it to quell any potential PR and reputation issues or adjust your online reputation management strategy to account for the latest mention of your company.

2) Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics

Another way to track mentions of your company name and links to your company website is to use Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. Both of these tools are free and allow you to look at your company website in different ways online. First, you can use Google analytics to monitor the traffic to your site. Drill down in the analytics to find out where your site traffic is coming from and use that information to track down links to your site, so you can evaluate the content of the site and incorporate it into your reputation management efforts.

Webmaster Tools has similar functionality and will show you the names of third-party websites that link to your company website. Links to your website can have both good and bad contexts, so it’s important to know who is linking to you and how they are using that link to your website.

3) Twitter

Another way to track mentions of your name online is through Twitter. The social media space is quickly becoming an area that needs to be closely monitored by all businesses who care about their reputation and Twitter offers an automated way to find mentions of your company name on their service. Both through the Twitter website and 3rd party applications, you can set up a keywords search that will constantly search the Twittersphere for mentions of your company or brand and filter them into one neat list. As long as you are checking the feed from time to time, you’ll stay on top of any mentions of your company name and be able to respond, either with a thank you or with follow-up questions to help resolve confusion or misunderstandings about your company.

Monitor and Manage

Reputation management is more than just tracking down links. It’s about monitoring your actual reputation and the way people feel about your company. If you are able to efficiently monitor the web for instances of your company name, you’ll better be able to respond to complaints and criticism as well as build a better reputation management strategy overall.

Beware What You Share: 4 Reputation Management Tips for Teens

It’s no surprise that over 90% of teens today have profiles on at least one social network, if not multiple networks. However, many teens seem to think that there is an expectation of privacy on social networks—which is simply not true. Everything you share on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Quorra, and more can be shared with the whole world, depending on your privacy settings and how careful you are about what you share. And what most teens don’t realize is that the information they are sharing now may harm them in the future as they try to get a job and apply for college. But here are four tips that might help teens better filter their online sharing and prevent a thoughtless action from creating negative consequences.

1) Know your settings

First and foremost, teens need to educate themselves about the privacy settings on their social networks. Most social platforms allow you to adjust who can and cannot see your private information. Although teens may want to put their cell phone number online for all their friends, making that information accessible to anyone can open them up to abuse, bullying, predators, and more.

Keep in mind that even if you set that type of information to “private” it can still be leaked to 3rd parties by anyone who is your friend on that social network. So, just because it can’t be seen by strangers doesn’t mean it can’t be found. Privacy only adds a layer of difficulty to obtaining the information. You should still be careful about what information you choose to share online.

2) Trim your friends list

Even though strangers can’t access your personal information if you create high privacy settings, your friends still can. All it takes is for one of your friends to share your cell phone, address, or personal pictures with someone you don’t know for problems to begin. So, be careful about who you are friends with online. Remember, being friends with you online is a privilege, not a right. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing personal information with someone, don’t feel pressured to be their friend online.

3) If you don’t want to shout it from a rooftop, don’t share it

Anything you share on social networks can be shared publicly, so don’t share anything online that you wouldn’t want everyone at school to know. In addition, parents, school administrators, potential employers, and college admissions offices can check in on your social networking behaviors very easily and get a sense of the things you are doing and saying online. Again, if you don’t want anyone to know about it, don’t share it on social networks.

4) Think about the future

Social networks are now a tool that many employers, college admissions officers, and scholarship award givers use to gauge the integrity of teens. So always put your best foot forward online. If your profile picture shows you with a beer in your hand, colleges may not want you, and employers may not want to hire you. And if you brag about cheating on a test or fooling one of your high school teachers, that tells potential colleges that you are a disrespectful and lazy student. Think about the future, and keep in mind that what you share today could hurt you tomorrow.

Today, more and more of your lives are online, but knowing how to better manage your online reputation through social networks will help you stay safe and have the best chance at a bright future.

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