A story has two sides. Views depend on which side you are on. Batman once remarks in Dark Knight (2008) that, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain..” after finding the shining knight in white (Harvey Dent), dead. He decides that the time was not right to show the world that their knight had fallen prey to the nefarious designs of the anti hero, Two Face. The true story is left untold to the citizens of Gotham.
Cut to the real world. Heroes here have to work on their reputation. And more so in a world where reputations are made or marred at the click of a mouse. Anyone – be it an individual or an entity, can be tarnished by an innocuous or vicious, voluntary or involuntary comment, review, blog or article. Monitoring becomes tough as bloggers and social media enthusiasts take upon themselves the task to put things in perspective.
Reputation at Stake:
In the good old days (read prior to the net becoming a hunting ground), the goodwill of an individual or entity, would suffice for progress. But as more and more people do the search rounds of the internet you never know when even a small innocent sounding jibe can turn into a veritable scandal.
Computers have anti-virus to protect them, but online reputations do not have such programs to guard against reputation beating, as yet. (Never know someone might just develop one!)
The High Five of Reputation Management:
For those who came in late (and thought this was a Dark Knight review), reputation in common parlance is the opinion or general estimation in which an individual or an entity is held, by the people/public. Reputation Management can be termed as an offshoot of Public Relations, except that it is specifically aimed at protecting and improving the online reputation of an individual or collective entity.
At times, as the internet history is a witness to you might come across a blog, news, review, comment or article that spews negative ideas/views about a product, service, company, individual or even a group of individuals, despite the fact that they enjoy great reputation in the market. A search might throw up such negative aspects, leaving the person at the receiving end wondering as to what went wrong!
Your online reputation apart from affecting you per se can also affect your personal contacts, prospective employers, business partners, stock holders, co-workers and even reporters, in certain cases.
So, how to salvage your reputation given this scenario? You could follow few guidelines to protect your online reputation. Either hire a reputed reputation management company or manage it yourself by:
1. First check what is being talked about on the internet and whether you figure in any of these conversations positively or negatively. You can begin by searching for your name, company name, brand name, user names, employee names etc on the search engines like Google, Bing, MSN etc. Connect to the first three to four pages and figure out whether you are on them or not.
2. The next thing to do is to filter out the positive, negative or middle ground queries being asked about you. You can do this by transferring the data on a spreadsheet. You may opt for first thirty to fifty searches and based on that you can come to a conclusion, whether your online reputation needs management.
3. It is better to be safe than sorry. Hence, if you are a little high profile, the best thing to do is register your name or domain name and create id’s on various social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc and set the privacy settings that are available in it.
4. You can also monitor your online reputation using various tools available online like Twitter search, Technorati, Google Reader, Google Alerts, Yahoo Alerts and Trackur to name a few. Use those tools with which you are comfortable or the ones that suit your profile.
5. The last step is being proactive. Monitoring is the easier part, what needs scrutiny is responding to negative criticism in a positive manner. Answer queries, provide affirmative responses and master the art of focusing on healthy discussions without ignoring the unhealthy ones.
These are DIY guidelines. However in severe conditions you might require professional help. As Batman says, “Because sometimes the truth isn’t good enough; people deserve more.”
Divya Rawat, an author and a mother, loves to blog about lifestyles, gourmet and fashion. She has currently ventured in the world of SEO writing and works as a content writer with an SEO Company that’s been offering Content Writing Service for the past six years.