In today’s world, we are expected to have an online presence of some sort. If you are not very active in social spaces, your online presence will be created by the comments about you and photos of you posted by others. Even if you are that unique individual who has no friends online and no business presence online, that lack of presence makes a statement about who you are , what you do , and what you do not do. Allowing others to create your image is not a good business strategy, so let’s talk about what you should do to assure that your image/brand/reputation are reflective of who you are and how you want to appear.
1. Own your name –
If you don’t control your name you have no control over your online presence – or the presence that someone else creates online using your name. Ludacris asks would be rappers in his song “Tell it Like it is”
How you own three cars, but you don’t own ya own name?
Your online reputation starts with your name,so you need to be sure you have control over it or a variation that works for you. Got to a site like usernamecheck.com or namechk.com and see if the name you want to use is available – then go and register the name you want to use. Even if you aren’t planning on using the site, by owning the name you prevent others from controlling it to your disadvantage.
2.Google yourself –
You should monitor your name, your company name, and any terms you think are relevant to your business. Setting up a google alert is simple and easy. Just go to http://www.google.com/alerts . By having a report sent to you from Google periodically you will be aware of what others find when they google your name. This can help you save positive mentions for your marketing, work on dealing with negative mentions, and generally become active in shaping your online appearance.
3. Be consistent –
As a business person, you don’t want to make it hard to find you. Many programs find you and your social stream through your email address. By using the same email address on all of your profiles, you create a larger presence and allow people to find you easily. You should also give consideration to your photo or avatar. By using the same photo again and again in different online profiles you become a familiar image recognized by your community members.
Being in the same places, around the same times, sharing the same types of things – whether topics or media will help you build consistency and become identified with those things. For example, when people see high quality black and white nature photography they think of Ansel Adams – when they see pople doing silly things on amateur videos they think of Johnny Knoxville and the team from “jackAss” If you post a lot of photos or a lot of video, you will quickly become identified with those things – whatever they may be – local attractions, buildings, sports teams or things to do in your marketplace. As in any business practice, setting expectations and meeting them is a positive practice.
4. Be genuine –
There is a lot of conversation in social media about being transparent – sharing the business process with consumers so they are comfortable with the motives and goals of business. I am more a fan of being genuine or authentic. Making sure that the person you are is the person they perceive should be your primary goal. At some point, to do business with your online connection, you will meet them and interact with them in the physical world. If you are not the person they thought they were going to meet, you will have violated their trust, and they will not easily forgive you for that. You want your first physical meeting to be an extension of your online activities, not a place where you have to explain why you’re not who they expected to meet.
5. Determine what’s working!
There are any number of sites that will rank you and your social media efforts and that will be another blog post soon, but here are a couple of sites to help you see what you look like to a stranger looking for you online. Spezify.com shows you in a visual manner articles, blog posts, tweets, photos and videos. The display is seemingly random and very visual – but provides a quick sense of what people would see over all . Addictomatic.com allows you to see your online presence in categories to allow you to concentrate on those places where you might feel your presence is weak. And socialmention.com will search the web and provide you with some metrics to determine how the world at large is interacting with and speaking about you and your firm. As with any business practice, keep checking to see what’s working and what isn’t working and don;t be afraid to make changes when you need to.
So what are you doing to make sure that the message you send is received the way you want it to be?