If you look hard enough, you can find negative things about me online. From others calling me “awful” to referring to me as a “whore” or an “@**hole,” it’s out there. I’m fortunate, however, that some of the rude comments aren’t plentiful enough to bring down my reputation as a whole.
Others aren’t so lucky. I hear stories of people who have exes who are determined to bring them down or haters who work hard to destroy a reputation. There are also those who make big mistakes that end up splashed all over the Internet.
It’s much easier to explain away the deranged ex or weird online stalker than it is to overcome the poor online reputation that comes from a stupid Tweet or an inappropriate Facebook post, or an idiotic thing said on camera.
No matter where your online reputation comes from, though, there are some strategies that can help you repair some of the damage:
1. Be Honest and Upfront
One of the best things you can do is address a problem head on. If it’s the result of a mistake you’ve made, make an apology as quickly as possible. You don’t want to come across as defiant or oblivious — both things that can further wreck your reputation. If you were wrong, you need to own up to it, express your regret, and do what you can to fix it.
Acknowledge the situation and the problem and talk about how you will address it. If it is the result of a smear campaign, be honest about how hurt you are by the situation, and tell your side of the story. People respond to sincerity, and many are willing to forgive and move on if you are honest and up front.
2. Analyze Where the Online Reputation is Coming From
Take a look at the social metrics related to your company or your personal brand. Understand where the online reputation is coming from so that you can properly address the problem, and do so in a way that makes sense for your audience.
You can use Google Alert to stay on top of when you’re mentioned so that you can determine how your efforts are going. You can also follow review sites (if you offer a product) and watch for what people say about you on social media. Keep up with that information so that you know what your online reputation is, and so that you can address problems quickly. It’s rarely a good thing to just let something sit.
3. Take Control of the Story
This is easier said than done. You’ll need to create a digital marketing plan, much as you do when you’re trying to sell a product our service. You can set up mini websites that help you tell your side or address an issue. Also, because Google often ranks some media, like video, higher, you can create useful video content that others are more likely to see.
You don’t need to get out there and bash your detractors, but you do need to be active in the way you present yourself on social media, create more content, and work to ensure that positive results about you make their way to the top of the search pages, pushing the negative stuff down.
It can take a lot of effort, but it’s possible for you to overcome a poor online reputation with hard work and a strategic approach.