ReadWriteWeb’s Lidje Davis recently posted a very thought-provoking article entitled The Unforseen Consequences of the Social Web. In the article, Davis notes the many ways that that one’s actions on the social web can adversely affect one’s own reputation. The flip side is how other peoples’ actions on the social web can affect your reputation as well. “Reputation Management” means monitoring and tracking of one’s own brand, creating appropriate online personas, and developing an encompassing reputation strategy. The best way to manage your reputation is by creating a proactive reputation management strategy.
Why should an organization spend its time to create a proactive reputation management strategy?
- There is no delete button on the internet. Your posts, and comments about your organization live forever. A great example is when I searched under the terms “L’Oreal+Israel” using Google: the third and fourth listings were entitled “Boycott Israel Campaign” and “L’Oreal: Makeup for Israeli Apartheid.” These campaigns are at least 10 years old. Is this really what L’Oreal, Israel, wants its customers to see at the top of the search page?
- Current comments about your organization can spread like wildfire and affect your organization’s ability to raise funds successfully. As Elaine Fogel writes in Network for Good’s blog here, “one negative media report on a nonprofit can set it back to the point where it may not recover. A nonprofit’s main asset is its reputation.” No one wants to give money to a company with a poor reputation.
- Inability to react quickly to negative online publicity and conversation will damage your reputation as well. See my previous post analyzing two online reputation management cases for examples.
- If your organization’s online brand is not up to date, it will also affect fundraising. Imagine soliciting major donors…but donors researching your company find negative listings in the top ten Google search returns. Or better yet, what if Twitter searches for your organization’s name show many negative comments? Smart donors search online first for information about organizations. You want the top online results to be positive.
A little bit of proactive attention to your organization’s online profile can prevent problems down the road, and find allies, collaborators and donors. That said, how about getting started? I suggest a few starter actions, listed below.
- Set up “listening posts” to monitor online conversations about your organization.
- Buy your domain name, those related to your organization, and potential common domain name misspellings.
- Create a blog so that your organization has a platform from which to issue its own stories.
- Pick two social networking sites to join where your stakeholders hang out, and begin to converse with people there.
- Create an organizational social profile on a handful of social networking sites. You don’t have to be active on them, but you’re ready to be if need be, and it will help increase your organization’s search engine rankings.
Ask Dave Taylor asks: What Is Reputation Management? Dave answers this question thoroughly.
Social Media Optimization’s blog post: Five Steps to Managing Reputation Management.
Reputation Advisor’s Six Easy Steps to Personal Reputation Management.
Chris Bennet on Reputation Management.
Search Insider’s 17 Search Engine Reputation Management Optimization Tips.
If your organization wants to delve deeper, there is great information available online. Here are some of the best management reputation informational posts that I found:
- The “mother of all” resources and tips to manage your online reputation was compiled by Jacob Share at Job Mob. He lists 170+ Resources and Tips to Help Manage Your Reputation Online. This post gives a thorough list of online tools to manage your reputation and specific steps of how to “clean up” one’s reputation in each participatory media sphere.
- Brett Borders’ Copy Brighter blog speaks only to online reputation management, with wonderful posts about managing one’s online reputation, how to deal with “impossible” online reputation issues, and more. If you want to know more about this specific area, I’d start here first. Ditto for finding answers to your questions regarding online reputation management and strategies.
- Marketing Pilgrim focuses on the search engine that determines all of our reputations, Google, and how to adjust one’s rankings within Google. There are very practical ways to increase your organization’s Google rankings in the post Google Reputation Management: Fix Your Google Reputation and Remove Negative Results. Some are quite easy to implement. Though the article focuses on fixing a negative Google reputation, it is worthwhile to read and implement these strategies proactively so that your organization controls as much of its reputation as it can.
- Marketing Pilgrim also put together a great guide called the Free Online Reputation Management Beginner’s Guide. The guide includes social media monitoring tools and practical advice on how to address negative consumer-generated media.
- The New Zealand State Services has an article about monitoring social media buzz. The article focuses on creating RSS feeds for each social media tool, and specifically how to do this for Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia references boost Google search engine rankings, it is important to stay on top of the chatter on it.
I hope that this inspires you to dip your toes into proactive reputation management. Let me know what you find!