February 19, 2013

How to Protect Your Online Reputation Amongst a Sea of Hackers and Naysayers

by Jaimie Siegle | Advertising Systems, Inc.

A digital identity can make or break a business, along with the individuals who own or are employed by them. With big corporations like Facebook, Apple and Burger King recently being hacked, we thought it was appropriate to share a few tips on preventing the situation – especially if you’re a small business without a risk management or PR team. There are, for instance, a few things that will help your “street cred” on the Internet – search engine optimized (SEO) content, a blog, a social media presence all work together to give your brand or business legitimacy.

But sometimes, things happen: Maybe it was your own accounts that were hacked. Perhaps someone spammed your entire email list. Maybe a customer wrote a nasty review about you, parts of which were true (or not true). Regardless, you don’t have to undo all the hard work you’ve done and time you’ve spent building up your stellar online reputation. All you need is a few crisis control tools to help diffuse the situation, and better prepare you for the next hiccup. Here, three tips to get you started:

1. Acknowledge the issue. ‘Fess up. Say you’re sorry. Publicly recognize your mistake, and then explain what you’re doing to fix the issue. Better yet, use social media to spread the word about how you’re actively trying to take care of your customers, and they’ll respond kindly (through the use of shares and re-tweets), if they sense your honesty.

2. Analyze your current reputation. From Klout to Social Mention to LinkedIn and good ol’ Google Analytics, you’ll need to figure out where your business currently stands in the digital realm before you can set goals for where  you’d like to be. Basically this tip translates to: find out how popular (or unpopular) you are on the Internet; then, take action.

3. Have real conversations. This applies to businesses, industry professionals, experts, neighbors, potential customers, and everyone in between. The idea is to build an identity: Ask and answer questions, re-tweet and promote fellow colleagues or companies.

One last thing: Don’t forget to use multiple strong passwords.

Infographic Journal‘s awesome infographic on “Monitoring Your Online Reputation” from Search Engine Journal has some great tips. Click here to view the full image.

Check out more information about online reputation management here.

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