4 February 2009

Online Reputation Management: Part 2

You’ve got a listing appointment tonight.

You’re meeting with buyers for the first time this afternoon.

You’re meeting a vendor who has a product or service you are interested in.

You’re interviewing a potential new agent.

Do you think these people Google you before your meeting? Do you Google them?

Chances are they (and you) do. A recent survey found that 70{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} of employers do a Google search on candidates as part of their interview process.

Do you care what others may see when they Google you? Or is this whole idea of online reputation management the product of paranoia from people who generally have healthy egos and no lack of self esteem. (Remember the first time you Googled yourself? There was a little thrill in seeing the results, huh?)

Here’s the the bottom line for the paranoid: You can’t control what people say or write about you in the online world any more then you can in the offline world. I’m sure you’ve heard many celebrities say that they don’t follow the media coverage about themselves because they can’t control it and therefore choose not to burden themselves with it. That applies here too.

You know yourself, your behaviors, and how you treat people. Those close to you know the same. You control the important stuff.

But let’s say you do care – and want to do something about it. Here are three suggestions for protecting your online reputation:

1) Monitor what others are saying. Google Alerts will only get you so far. Consider adding services like StepRep to your online monitoring. Check out my post last week to learn more about this new service.

2) Manage your own personal brand. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and many others are collecting the crumbs we leave behind. And most reputation damage is self-inflicted. Consider your behaviors–what you post in comments, how a photo of you can be interpreted (you don’t want a Drunken Pirate incident), what you say on your blog, and how you appear on social networks. Think hard before you act.

Michael Phelps is the latest example of someone damaging their own brand without anyone else’s help. What was he thinking? That photo will be forever attached to his image and brand. Advertisers across the world are scrambling to determine if they still want Michael’s brand attached to theirs. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could have said anything online that would have done the kind of damage he managed to do himself.

3) If you see a problem, deal with it. If a client feels you’ve done them wrong and takes their grievience online, address it directly with them. Try to find a way to make them feel better and ask them to stop.

Whether this is all about paranoia or healthy brand management, your online reputation is a part of your image and the Internet has a long memory. Be careful out there!

6 thoughts on “Online Reputation Management: Part 2

  1. Great post! I am working harding to explain this to our agents with a new class I wrote aptly titled, Agent 2.0. Some get it, some don’t – but this is so important! If you think people are not googling your name, you are wrong. I think this is great though – sites like LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter are appearing at the top of the google search and they are (for the most part) user controlled 🙂

    Thanks again – super job as usual.

  2. Good article string you have here. I am consistently amazed by the number of companies failing in this space (especially in the real estate industry)

    This information can turn quickly on you: I just wrote an article this morning how a company blasted itself into oblivion by having a bad online reputation and buying a $3m Superbowl spot (Recipe for disaster)

    In real estate the virtual reputation becomes more significant as agents and brokers deal with such a complex and long sales cycle. Your online reputation may be damaged by someone living in a house years after the transaction has closed.

  3. Great post. I think everyone needs to be concerned about this. I had a few people on Yelp one time just have an entertaining conversation about me (even though they did not know me). I contacted Yelp about this and all they could do is put a disclaimer at the bottom saying I was not consulted about this. Anyone, it was not bad in any way but not positive as well.

  4. Hi Stephanie
    Thanks for your comments on this post. I can empathize with the challenge of getting agents to understand, embrace and utilize the online world! It isn’t always easy but without us forging ahead for them, just think of the opportunities they would miss!

    Be strong and keep leading!

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