Being active on social media and sharing your thoughts, accomplishments, and ideas with the world is a powerful way to communicate with the world at large. However, the unfiltered ‘noise’ and relatively unregulated landscape across all types of social media platforms can put your reputation at risk. A casual remark or post about something you are passionate about could be misinterpreted by many — including a potential customer or client. When that single update or post ends up being a catalyst for an online feud, you could be jeopardizing your public image and your career.
Here are some important tips for keeping your online reputation healthy:
Proactively monitor your Google presence.
One of the easiest ways to see how others perceive you online is to do a Google search. Review search results beyond the first few pages to see if there are any articles, blog posts, or even status updates about you that you were unaware of. You can also set up a Google alert on your name to keep track of where your name is showing up online.
Be mindful about your Twitter and Facebook updates.
Twitter and Facebook are designed to encourage casual banter, witty comments and random updates. While these social media platform add another dimension to your online presence, they can also paint a picture about you that may not be entirely true. Consider who your audience is before posting updates and the ramifications of sharing something potentially offensive, rude, or incorrect. If you care about your reputation, you will want to make sure you are posting things that the majority of your followers, fans and readers will appreciate — not offend people and start an online comment war over a post that could leave a negative mark on your reputation.
Be authentic. People prefer to consume social media content that sounds like it’s coming from a real person, not a ‘brand voice’ or a robot. If you find yourself speaking with an alternative ‘voice’ online, reconsider your strategy. Being authentic and original will help you connect with your audience and also give you a chance to build a strong following. While your company may have its own social media presence, make sure anything attached to your name is coming from you personally and is not a censored version of a statement or ‘brand speak’ to appease the masses.
Don’t publicly reply to trolls or unhappy customers. Whether somebody tweets you an unsavory message or you receive complaints directly on Facebook, avoid the knee-jerk reaction of responding to that person within your feed. Send them a direct message or find a way to email the individual if possible so you can take the conversation offline. Engaging in online arguments — even if you are right — can start a wildfire that all your followers and fans will be privy to and many response can be misconstrued or taken out of context. Save yourself from public humiliation and questionable motives when those interactions spin out of control.
Set appropriate privacy settings…and boundaries. If you are completely comfortable sharing family vacation photos with your entire Twitter fan base or announcing your sister’s engagement on LinkedIn, consider how those images and updates may not convey a professional online image. These types of posts are okay to share with a close circle of friends but unless you are a celebrity, very few people will care to tune in to the latest events in your personal life. However, that doesn’t mean you should refrain from sharing personal posts on social media altogether. In fact, CEOs and executives who share fragments of their personal life online can appear more relatable and friendly. It’s still a good idea to set some boundaries on what you share and who you share it with so there is not too much personal information about you floating around the Internet. Take some time to check all your privacy settings and consider your audiences across different channels so you are only sharing what people truly want — and need — to know.
Managing social media activity can be gray area but it’s an important part of maintaining a healthy reputation online. Use these tips to connect with your audience authentically while maintaining healthy boundaries and a positive public image.