Don’t Allow Social Media to Damage Your Reputation

Don’t Allow Social Media to Damage Your Reputation

This is a guest post by Dave Thomas.

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes.

With that being said, what kind of business owner are you? Do you have trouble sleeping at night when it comes to meeting the needs of your customers, worrying about the people you hire, or what your rivals may be up to?

Those are all legitimate concerns, but what about your reputation? Specifically, what about your online reputation as both a person and an entrepreneur?

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs wait until something negative happens that they then turn their attention to their online reputation. By that point and time, the damage to their business may very well already be done.

So, what are some things as an entrepreneur that you need to do to better protect what is said about you online?

Among the items to zero in on:

Social footprints

First and foremost, make sure you don’t make any major gaffes when it comes to social media. While there are some entrepreneurs who have failed to engage in and reap the rewards of social media, others have dove into it. While participating is great, there is always the chance that a mistake or two will be made, mistakes that can damage your online reputation.

For example, let’s say you get into a beef with an angry customer who has taken to Facebook, Twitter or another social venue. Next thing you know, they have called you and your business out. In order to provide your side of the story, you respond, with the dialogue going back-and-forth, sometimes in a negative tone.

The unfortunate part for you is that current and potential customers see you in a less positive light, meaning their business could very well go elsewhere. If you feel you can’t answer the customer in an efficient and professional manner, by all means do not engage publically with them. Take the conversation to private channels, allowing you and the customer to hash out a solution. You also want to make sure that any comments you or your team make on social media come across as professional. While it is okay to have a little fun with SM, posting inappropriate office party photos or comments should never even be considered;

Know what others are saying

With all you have to do as an entrepreneur, you probably do not have time to do periodic online checks of your name and your business. The problem here is that there are companies out there that post information you may choose not to go public, including personal addresses, income levels, divorce information, court documents and more. By doing a Google search of both your name and your company’s name, you can stay abreast of what others are seeing when they do likewise;

Make your Internet experience a positive one

Finally, there are many different ways you and your company can come out looking like stars on the Internet. Make sure you promote things like blog posts that make you out to be an authority in your field, customer testimonials, press releases about the interesting things your business is doing, videos and podcasts that assist customers and much more.

In the event there is some negative information floating around online that puts you and/or your business in a bad light, projecting all the good things you are doing will lower the bad stuff on the search engines.

From social media to your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and more, make sure the time you and your employees spend on the Internet is productive.

Remember, your online reputation is at stake.

  • A very fitting post at the moment, given the Applebee’s fiasco especially on Facebook.

  • I have to agree with @MySocialGamePlan:disqus. Maybe if Applebee did read this post, they could have eschewed this fiasco.

  • “Projecting all the good things you are doing will lower the bad stuff on the search engines.” There is no surefire way to eliminate a negative review online. People are entitled to their opinions and have the freedom to voice said opinions on the internet. However (as you mentioned), continually posting good, quality content, keeps good rankings in the search engines and builds a site’s credibility.

  • Venus Brown

    I believe that participating in online communities and forums can provide an extra advantage in reputation management. This helps to show that you know your stuff very well and it’ll be easy to regain your lost position.

  • Kimberly Kline

    Very good points here Dave. I especially like your suggestion to be proactive when it comes to your online reputation. Being careful about what you post in the first place and making sure all those posts are professional is key. I also agree with trying to take a complaint to “private” channels. This allows you to work it out without the potential escalation.

  • I think this was a very true blog post. People often think monitoring their own social media is going to protect their recommendation online; however, this is not the case. People need to monitor their name and what others are saying about them as well. You can not eliminate the negative but if you know what is out there, you can counteract it with positive or respond too it (not like Applebees however!).

  • Really good points. The web can be fun and it can help your reputation, but if not done right it can destroy you.

  • Angela Iliopoulos

    Great points! Social Media gives you the freedom to write and post anything about anyone and at times that is not always a good thing. I have seen quite a few businesses going back and forth with an unhappy customer and I always think “no, don’t do that”. I do believe they should respond but not in a negative/fighting back way. Can’t make everyone happy but you can stay positive in your responses and show that you care about making the client satisfied.

  • Agreed, there is always going to be that customer with unrealistic expectations, sometimes even with nasty attitudes but that should not change your approach.

    Thanks for your comment Angela!

  • Thank you all for reading the post and commenting. Having written about and covered social media for several years now, I guess I should not be amazed at what I see, yet I oftentimes am. I see both business owners and employees in general make gaffes on an almost daily basis. The business owner is apt to be too late to the issue, responding when damage is already done. Meantime, how many times have you seen employees who tweet or share how bored they are at work or hate their jobs? I see it on an almost daily basis; guess they figure their bosses don’t have Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you were a social media consultant advising both business owners and job holders/people looking for jobs, what SM advice would you give them in 2013?

  • I think having a large social footprint is a very imperative thing as a business owner. With social media growing i think it is becoming more of a source of marketing and crediblity indicator than every before. I know i take a look at companies and what they got going on on facebook before purchasing them. Mainly for legitmacy reasons. My company http://morefollowersandfans.com foundation is based on social enhancement and credibility.

  • Mhairi

    It can at times be scary how free/powerful social media is. I am so excited to see where social media is heading, and because of that I am always conscious of what I am posting. Not only is a footprint important for companies and brands, but as a student hoping to grow and been seen in the business world I not only want my online presence to be PG, I also want it to be impressive. The key is to always remember how visible you are online, what happens online stays on Google forever.