Her advice reminded me of what my mother used to say to me when I was in high school. She used to say something about keeping my reputation safe. It also reminded me of an incident when I was a junior. There were ugly rumors spread about me by a jealous ex-girlfriend. They were horrid, particularly because they were devoid of any truth. I was, in the words of Eliza Doolittle, “a good girl” and a rather naïve one at that.
With an online presence, it’s inevitable that you’ll find those who love you along with those who think you stink. Or maybe they just want to complain. Or are just plain mean and take it out on you.
Whatever their take, they’ll just write about you somewhere online.
It is shocking and saddening to find out that there are people who are mean-spirited enough to do this behind your back.
But it really hurts.
And not just emotionally. It can really affect your business too.
Don’t be surprised when it happens to you the first time. Your first reaction will be to sit there with your mouth agape. You may be in a state of shock that someone can write vile, unfounded, disturbing things about you.
It has happened to me. It has happened to friends and co-opetitors alike. It doesn’t surprise me.
So what is it about?
The stuff I’m talking about has nothing to do with constructive criticism. It really is some insanely, irrational stuff.
It may be having your name and picture plastered all over a page that has the weirdest messages in it. It has nothing to do with your business, nothing to do with you, just your name and picture… it happened to one of my clients.
Some creepy SOB managed to highjack my website and infected it with malware. Google banned it and I had to take it down and rebuild it.
Or, finding out that Lilia Lee died in a car crash in OK on October 11, 2011 while at the same time having an active profile on MySpace! Like, for sure!
Being online can do some funny stuff to people’s reputation. It threatens the very fiber of your presence, at least how other people see you online. Seems like people think that because they’re behind a firewall, they can (and do) say anything. Like it doesn’t count. Like it doesn’t hurt people and businesses.
It will happen, mark my words.
Being online means you are visible. People will become aware of you and connect with you. That’s a good thing.
For all those that want to reach out and touch you, there is the one yo-yo who is either crazy or mean or both. And, he/she will strike out at you.
It’s inevitable, like the sun rises in the East each morning. If it hasn’t happened yet, you’re lucky. But the more you become known, the more chances there are that someone will want to touch you to hurt you. Why? I don’t really know. It’s almost unimportant, that why.
So what can you do?
First, you need to be aware. One of the first things taught to women in self-defense classes is to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
The same applies to being online. You may not be able to control someone’s behavior. There are some things you can do to make sure you are aware of your online reputation. If need be, you can then take action to counteract the bad stuff.
1. Google Alert Yourself
You can set up Google Alerts for tons of reasons. You could keep up with a topic of interest, monitor competitors, and keep track of what’s being said about you online.
One of my mentors, Fabienne Fredrickson, mentioned this to me as a technique in 2009. I thought she was being egotistical at the time, wanting to know what was being said about her online. Boy was I wrong! She was smart to be doing so then. I wish that I had followed her example.
Anyway, setting up a free Google Alert is easy. You can do it in a matter of seconds. Set it up so that any mention of your own name or your business on the Web triggers an e-mail to you.
To set up a Google Alert, go to: www.Google.com/alerts
My suggestion is that you set up daily alerts for your name, your business name, and any products/programs you have. And, rather than wading through a lot of e-mails, you can get a single daily digest of anything matching your criteria.
2. Are You Mentioned on Social Media?
There are online tools that allow you to track mentions of you, your business, your product/services and even your dogs in the social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, blog posts. Even comments on blog posts are included.
How do they work? Well, these are services that provide the ability to search for whatever you want to on many of the popular social media venues. If you prefer, you can filter the searches for negative comments only.
3. Google Yourself
This is how I found out that I’d died last year and at the same time I was having an active social life on MySpace.
Did you live a desultory life earlier? Are you afraid that some peccadillo will come back to haunt you?
No matter. It is best you find out anyway. So, I suggest you do this at least once a week. Search for your name, your company name, and your products/services/programs.
You know where to go: www.google.com. Bing.com, AskIt, Yahoo.com all work as well. Google is just best known.
Delegate, If You Must
I do this for myself. But, once in a while I find it painful to do. If you are a sensitive type, it might be better to let your VA or other assistant do this for you. If they find something really bad, it may require legal action. It may just be a matter of requiring that the item be deleted or taken down.
It’s up to you whether you DIY or delegate. But, please, get it done.
Have you had an experience in this vein? Leave a comment below.