I’m not the one to write so much about non-personal finance stuff. This after all is a personal finance blog, so I generally tend to leave other topics for the bloggers that write within that niche. However, every so often I like to dabble outside the personal finance realm, and today is one of those days. I wanted to share a few points on protecting your online reputation with you. It’s something that many don’t consider often, yet it’s something that’s important that needs to be given some attention every so often.
We all can agree on this point: Every so often we have bad days and some of them happen more frequently to some of us, and to the rest of us it’s an occurrence that happens sporadically. In either instance, when we have a bad day at work or at home or anywhere – you just want to vent. So, you pop open your laptop, hit up Twitter or Facebook by dropping some updates about your co-workers, boss, friends, friends of friends, your job or even your family member. What happens next? Instant gratification of feeling better! Yup, you’ve gotten it out of your system without blowing up on your co-worker, friend or family member. No harm, no foul right?
I’ve been there, and so have you at some time or another; you had a rough day, and you just want to vent by getting some stuff off your chest. And I said some things, and let’s just say that certain situations would be less tense if I didn’t say some things. That being said, I don’t regret it or anything I’ve done in life for that matter, just that I wish I had thought before I vented.
Anyways, we all have all those days, so you need to be pretty careful about what you put online, because it essentially represents you, who your are and your brand (if you have one). Here’s my two cents on protecting your online reputation:
Know the Rules of Your Workplace
Always know the rules that your employer has setup in the workplace pertaining to social media use. Don’t forget that contract that you might have signed or look over your employee handbook to get a refresher on the policy. Keep in mind that you’re obligated to keep certain things confidential, and have the back of your employer first and foremost.
Listen and Accept Feedback
Use feedback to improve your service, product or other aspects of your business. Niche communities, such as the personal finance community can be valuable free focus groups. I love to reach out to certain bloggers within the community and run an idea, question or thought by them. I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to get adjusted to this, because hearing the truth sometimes is not the most pleasant thing. But, the only way we can improve, adjust and move forward is by actively listening and willingness to accept feedback.
Don’t Hide and Instead Go Head-On
I think this one should have been #1 at the top, but never the less ALWAYS respond to all negative feedback and the positive ones too. Thank those for the positive feedback and acknowledge the negative stuff. That being said, don’t ever get involved in a war of words. If you really want to resolve the negativity of a comment or concern that was directed your way, try to get the discussion offline and ask the reviewer for a follow-up post or removal of a negative review.
Transparency is Key
Acknowledge when you are wrong or when you or your business dropped the ball. Offer an explanation or solution without complex wording or jargon. Being transparent is not only beneficial to your online reputation, but more importantly shows that you got humility. You’re willing to admit and recognize your mistakes equally as much as you’re willing to take credit for the good doings.
Limit Your Online Interactions
Your online interactions are adding to the information that exists about you. Manage your digital footprint! It’s very hard to eliminate things that you’ve posted or said online at times, so sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all. It amazes me sometimes the conversations that go live on twitter between two or three or more people.
Don’t Stretch the Truth
If you’re a blogger or an avoid used on LinkedIn, please don’t stretch the truth. Be real and honest about who you are, your accomplishments and success you’ve achieved. Avoid all temptations to exaggerate achievements at the risk of being caught. Many employers and potential business suitors are cross checking your e-reputation.
Anytime you apply for a new job or attend that interview, you can be certain that you’ve been “Googled” beforehand. Keep your photos private and comments to yourself in order to avoid being taken out of context. With all the technology in today’s day and age, it’s far too easy to be taken out of context, misunderstood and even one photo or comment can sink your e-reputation.
In conclusion, I’ll leave you with a very interesting graphic that pertains to being professional online, and some interesting numbers gathered by AVG Digital Diaries: