Personal Brand Management
We are all vulnerable to an online attack on our reputations; these attacks may present themselves in different forms but the more exposure we get, the greater the chance it may happen. A person with nothing to lose is not a typical target, more often than not the people who are being targeted are successful professionals whose reputations are a valuable asset. Frequently I am asked to consult at the point of crisis and over the years I have had countless conversations with individuals who spent years building up credible profiles and reputations offline only to be caught off guard online.
When in the eye of the storm it’s often difficult to see a way out, but there are steps one can take to minimise risk and prepare. Here are my simple tips to improve your personal brand management and pre-empt problems:
Trawling through the internet attempting to find personal mentions in press articles, social media profiles and blogs can be a difficult and time consuming task. There could potentially be entire conversations taking place online about yourself which you might never see. This is why it’s important to have an effective listening tool in place which automatically alerts you to any specific mentions of your name.
Google Alerts is a free service that produces a list of search results, based on criteria provided by you, and delivers those links straight to your e-mail account. This service has a number of uses, but can also be utilised to monitor the web for specific information about you or your company. https://www.google.co.uk/alerts
One of the most common methods an individual might use to orchestrate an online reputational attack is via a keyword rich domain. A keyword rich domain is one which includes the name of an individual or company, for instance www.tonymcchrystal.co.uk. These types of keyword rich domain names tend to rank highly in search engines for personal search terms, often appearing on page 1 with little technical support; my personal website has an automatic number 3 ranking in the top 10 search results for the term ‘Tony McChrystal’. If one or more of these domains were to fall into the wrong hands considerable damage can be inflicted. I have also seen multiple instances of domain squatting and attempts to ransom the domains to the associated individuals. A high profile example of this was the case of Richard Branson.
To combat this, make sure you register your top ranking domains:
And so on…
Social Media Presence
Today’s online user increasingly refers to social media for information regarding products, services and individuals. What drives this is the need for real information from real people instantly. If you do not have a voice on such platforms, the online user will navigate to third party profiles for this information; these profiles could potentially be displaying negative information which you have no control over.
A verified official profile will always rank top of any searches conducted on social media. As the top search result this will naturally attract more traffic, this way you can have a form of control over what content your audience are being presented with.
Parody accounts are commonplace on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Such accounts can be taken down by the relevant administrators, but in order for this to happen, you need to know they exist. By using your own official account you more likely to come across them and administrators are more likely to address enquiries promptly and favourably if the take down request is coming from an established verified profile.
Once you have control over these assets, they then need to be populated with accurate and interesting content. By promoting these sites and profiles you are adding relevance to them, which in turn will increase their authority. Creating and optimising trusted assets enables you have a vehicle to communicate to potential customers, investors, partners or journalists.
Page 1 of Google is your shop window. The more assets you own or control on that page, the more control you have over your reputation. By proactively managing your online presence you are at the same time building sufficient preventative strength in your search results to protect any future unwelcome content.