Everyone knows that people ask friends and family for recommendations about places to go. Most people know those people will turn to social media and search engines to get information, too.
But what most people do not realize is that customers are not the only ones who are interested in your online reputation.
While small business owners don’t really have to worry about whether or not employers are looking for them, it is important for anyone who has a profile online to realize that they are visible online.
If you are currently working, what you say online via any number of social media channels or review websites matters. Even if you are on your personal account, speaking negatively of the business can get you in trouble. Employers are watching. If your association with the company represents a reputation risk to them, they will cut you loose.
If you are currently searching for a job, what you say online matters, too. Employers want to know that you are not different online than what you represent yourself to be in person. If there is any reason to believe your employment would cause a potentially negative reputation, then you are less likely to get the job.
This one is especially important for small business owners to consider, especially if they plan on making business expansions that will require a hefty investment. Investors want to know you are serious about your work, and that you have a stellar business.
If investors find that you have a spotty online reputation, then you represent more of a risk to them. A bad online reputation signals that you may not be in business as long as you think, and that customers are not responding to you in a way that promotes profit.
When your business is too high risk—you will not be able to find investors.
How to Protect Your Online Reputation
Business Partners / Co-Workers
Business partners want to know you’re trustworthy. If they see you have a bad online reputation, you represent a risk to them. When you’re going into business with someone, everyone involved assumes each other’s risks. You may appear less honest and trustworthy than you actually are.
Co-workers want to know they are not going to be a victim of the fall out associated with your behavior.
Marketers / Public Relations
Because they are representing you and your company, they want to know they are not going to have any nasty surprises later. If there is something in your history they need to know about, tell them up front. Be honest, and you’ll get a lot further than if you lie and try to make yourself look good.
How to Act Online
- If you would not say it in person, in public, do not say it online.
- Once something is online, it does not go away.
- If you would not share it with your mother, don’t share it on social media.
- Do not use profanity, vulgarity, etc. online.
- Remain professional and courteous.
- Assume that everything you say and do is public, even if you are making use of privacy settings within each social media network.
- Think before you act—you could accidentally post a private message as public on your profile.
Issues with your online reputation?
Don’t panic yet. There are things that you can do to improve the way your reputation looks online. Professional online reputation management (ORM) services can repair your reputation through search engine optimization to hide bad content from within the first few pages of search engine results, further down than most people look.