There are, however, numerous methods for repairing your online reputation by simply leveraging the power of your social media profiles. Here, we’ll provide tips for doing just that.
Build profiles with as many social media outlets as you can. What is said about you online cannot be controlled,but you can control your own social media profiles, which will tend to supersede in search engine results most blogs or places where reviews or other information about you might be posted. So make sure that you build profiles with as many of the top social media sites as you can, including Twitter,Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
One study by Jakob Nielsen, the usability guru, shows that 93% of those using search engines don’t look past the first page of results. This is good news for someone with any bad press, as it very likely won’t be seen if that person has a strong social media presence.
Use them. On a site like LinkedIn, have people endorse and write recommendations for you. One study shows that “77% (of employers) use search engines to learn about candidates…35% eliminated a candidate from consideration based on information they uncovered online.” So make sure that what IS on these profiles that you have now created is as positive as can be.
Create a vanity URL with your name where possible. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace are examples of sites that allow you to create vanity URLS for your profile, for example www.linkedin.com/in/caraaley and www.myspace.com/cara. Use your name--the profile becomes easier for people to remember and share, and you want to own that vanity URL before someone else takes it (and potentially uses it in a malicious way). This is also an essential step in building and really owning your personal "brand" online.
Link to yourself to improve the SEO of your profiles. Link to your own personal website if you have one, or to another social media page that is searchable, like LinkedIn, from your Pinterest page.The more links a page has to it, the higher it will appear in search engine rankings. This is called linkbuilding. If you don’t have a personal website,consider building one. This is one more high profile link to suppress other negative links, as your own domain www.yourname.com should supersede most other sources when a search is done for your name.
Check out this great article on SEO and reputation management tips for Pinterest, and note that because this article links to that article, that article now has one more feather in its cap for its own search engine optimization. And if I also Google +’d the article,the article would have even more power in Google search engine results!
Stay positive and productive. A prospective employer can follow you on Twitter and read all past and future posts. It is important to post nothing on your social media pages that you wouldn’t want the most important people in your life to read--that includes future in-laws, current and future employers, and your network.
Tend to negative press quickly. If people are engaging with you on a negative level within your social media profiles or elsewhere, be sure to contact them as quickly as possible to try to resolve whatever issue exists so that the issue doesn’t continue to generate negative content about you online. If the problem continues, engage a website like Reputation.com, which specializes in helping to deal with such issues.
Ensure that all privacy options are leveraged. Maybe you started your Facebook page when you were a teenager, and you or your friends posted some regrettable photos or other content. Facebook and other social media sites have extensive privacy settings and options, but you need to make sure you are leveraging them, as they are often not the default settings. Some employers are actually now requiring that prospective employees make their Facebook profiles public. In this worst case scenario, it can make sense to simply start with a clean slate, and start a new Facebook page for yourself altogether.
In short, in this technology age, managing your online reputation is as important as managing your credit score, as a negative reputation can have far-reaching personal and professional effects. Using the aforementioned tips will help you to avoid the heavy ramifications of an online reputation that is tarnished in any way.
Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics from digital marketing strategy to health and wellness.