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Protect your online reputation by preventing mistakes

improving your online reputation
Eliminating online negative content about yourself is smart offense. You also must play strong defense by establishing your personal positive brand and avoiding reputation-damaging mistakes. Here's how:

Stay active online. There's no guarantee that negative content that you buried or removed will stay gone forever. People can dig up pages you’ve buried and bring them back into the limelight, while content you’ve worked to scrub from the web can appear elsewhere. 

Keep an eye on Google Alerts to watch for negative content. Post positive regularly on social media and make frequent updates to your blog or website to maintain a steady flow of positive content and to keep your owned assets near the top of Google search results.

Use social media wisely. Social media can be an incredible branding tool if used correctly. It can connect you with people in your industry, grow your following, and transform you into an authority in your field. It can even help you land jobs. But with great power comes great responsibility. Don't use social media as a soapbox to say what you want, to whomever you want, in whatever tone you please. View your social media accounts — especially visible ones like Twitter as business accounts.

If you want to maintain your Facebook profile as a private place to share conversations with friends and family, that is your prerogative, but set your Facebook’s settings to private. If, however, you want your social profiles to continue as public-facing tools, follow these rules:

Don’t engage in uncivil arguments. At best, social media can be a place for serious discourse. At worst, it can be a breeding ground for name-calling, bullying tactics, rude dismissals of other peoples’ opinions, and arguments that lack civility. Twitter is infamous for these types of exchanges because the 140-character limit makes it difficult to get points across with nuance or congeniality. To keep your branding positive, stay out of online spats. Screen grabs of your tweets can haunt you for years!

Avoid politics. Businesses rarely post about politics for good reason. As a business owner, you can never know for certain where your customers fall on the political spectrum. Unless you work in politics or journalism, the people following you online don't do so to get your two cents on politics. Don't alienate your followers. F
ocus your posts on your field or chosen topic. 
Don’t badmouth people or businesses. Industries are smaller spheres than you may realize. If you use Twitter to badmouth someone in your field, they may not respond directly, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t see your post. If someone takes shots at you on social media, would you take no offense? Probably not. Most of us don’t have skin that thick. If you use social media to tear down people in your industry, you could find yourself on the other side of the interview table from someone you derided online. By then, it will be too late to take back what you tweeted.

You may not be eager to censor your opinions on politics or things going on in your field. But, by being selective with what you post, you will avoid confrontation, foster a more positive atmosphere among your social following and free up time to enhance your personal online brand.

Be careful what you say on record. If interviewed by the press, or even a podcast, be careful about what you say. Saying something on record that might be deemed offensive or insensitive to individuals or groups will spread like wildfire—far faster than anything positive, smart, or insightful that you might say. If you fear that you will say something wrong, get media coaching to learn how to state your views without causing unnecessary offense.

Apologize. Sometimes, you can do everything right and still have a social media post or interview quote interpreted the wrong way. If you've inadvertently caused offense, address the issue and apologize. Ignoring the issue will only make matters worse, as will arguing about it in a public forum. Acknowledge that you made a mistake, offer a genuine apology, and move forward.

The bottom line: Having a strong online reputation isn’t about being 100% squeaky-clean all the time, but you can create a positive online reputation and grow from your mistakes rather than being limited or destroyed by them.


Guest post by Michael Klazema.

Michael has been developing products for criminal background check and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com

He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries. 
Thanks, Michael! Like you, WiserU is also a firm believer in establishing a strong online identity and reputation for job search or business (but admits that they've "stepped in it" a time or two by voicing political opinions online instead of staying positive!)


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