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Rich Brooks

Managing Your Business’ Online Footprint

Posted by   |   Apr,10 2009

The other night I was on 207, the evening news magazine here in Maine, talking about managing your–and your company’s–online reputation.

Like always, I ended up preparing about 20 minutes worth of material for a 5 minute segment; as I was doing my research I found a lot of stuff I wanted to share. Here are my notes:

What is online reputation?

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  • What people (and you) are saying about you and your business online. [It’s the digital footprint that you leave behind, and it’s what people are going to see when they Google you or your business for more information.]
  • There are sites (links appear below) that will help you manage and maintain your online rep, but the best steps are preventative ones.

How can you see what people are saying about you?

  • Google [Who hasn’t Googled themselves, or their business, or a date?]
  • Search.Twitter.com. [This will search what people are saying about you or your brand on the popular microblogging platform on Twitter in REAL TIME!]

What can people do to maintain a positive online reputation?

  • Behave online as you would behave offline [This assumes you’re not a jerk or a cheat offline. Also, understand that what you do offline has a habit of being recorded online. Right, Mr. Phelps? Alec Baldwin? David Hasselhoff?]
  • Remember that everything you do online will be there FOREVER!
  • Sometimes you may get tagged in a photo or video that doesn’t put you in the best light. If a friend posts something that you might not want your boss/mom/whomever to see you should quietly ask them to take it down.

Should teens be concerned?

  • Absolutely; pictures and videos of underage partying can be used as evidence.
  • Companies are getting smarter about checking out social media profiles to learn more about candidates.
  • Personal blogs can get you in trouble. [I once received a resumé with a link to a personal blog, which I followed. It was daily rants about getting drunk, including a recent evening with absinthe.]
  • The good news is that social media embarrassments may become like getting a tattoo; when everyone has an embarrassing moment, the stigma goes down a bit. However, too many embarrassing YouTube videos will reflect permanently on your character.

What can businesses do to maintain a good online rep?

  • A lot of the same things people do, such as being a good member of the community.
  • Use online alerts to quickly identify positive and negative feedback. [I use Google Alerts to push stories and blog posts my way that mention my name or my company name. Most are about that damn football coach who shares a name with me, but occasionally I’ll find some chatter about this Rich Brooks.]
  • It’s important to have a Web site, a blog, and a social media presence. These will help push negative comments off the first page. [Also, you need to use search engine optimization to make sure your sites, and posts, and social media profiles come up first.]
  • Don’t get into a flame war with your detractors. Decide if you want to engage or ignore. [Sometimes engagement is best, especially if someone is purposefully or accidentally spreading false rumors about you or your company. Sometimes it’s best just to ignore someone who’s got a real hate on for you. Engagement then just fans the flames.]

Here are some links:

Watch the video:

Rich Brooks
As Seen On an Embarrassing YouTube Video


About the Author: Rich Brooks is president of flyte new media, Web site design and Internet marketing company in Portland, Maine. Flyte works with small businesses to build professional Web sites that often include e-commerce, Flash and content management systems. They promote their clients' sites through search engine optimization, e-mail marketing, business blogs and podcasts, and viral marketing.

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