Three Must-Have Social Networking Sites for Online Reputation Management
These days it’s practically impossible not to use social media. Whether you’re keeping in touch with friends and family on Facebook, connecting with current and former colleagues on LinkedIn or sharing your personal opinions with the world on your very own blog, new media tools have changed the way we communicate and become an integral component of our daily lives.
When it comes to online reputation management, though, these new tools can be tricky. The very strengths that have made communicating easier have done the same for defamation and online harassment. In order to protect yourself from online attacks, you must know how to use social media technology to its full potential.
Learning to master the following three must-have social networking sites will put you at the forefront of personal branding and proactive online reputation management.
Link up on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the most popular and established professional social networking website. Geared toward professionals at all stages of their careers, LinkedIn helps you promote your good name and make valuable connections with your peers. The key to LinkedIn’s success, and the reason why you should be in on it, is the high esteem in which it is held.
Unlike Facebook, which is often dismissed as a place where anything goes, LinkedIn is associated with professionalism and tightly controlled sharing. When people visit your LinkedIn profile, they should find concrete information about your professional skills and career history as well as recommendations from coworkers and managers expressing your value.
Generally speaking, Google ranks LinkedIn profiles very highly, so when you sign up for the site, make sure to fill out your profile as thoroughly as possible.
Here are some quick tips on getting good Google results from your LinkedIn profile:
- Create a public URL for your profile that includes your name. Use the name that people will type into Google.
- Add a professional headshot to your profile. LinkedIn is not the place for goofy pictures. If you don’t have a professional headshot, crop a nicer picture of you to fit your needs.
- Use the site’s recommendation system. Well-written recommendations from colleagues demonstrate your value to future employers and recruiters.
Tweet your way to success.
Blogs are great reputation tools, but the time needed to create and manage them is often too much for many professionals. Enter Twitter, which makes sharing one’s opinions with the world as easy as sending a text message. This, of course, makes it one of the must-have social networking sites.
Here is a quick primer on proper Twitter etiquette:
- Keep your updates professional. The most successful Twitter users engage their followers and offer useful content.
- Don’t follow blindly. Who you follow on Twitter is as important to your reputation as who is following you. Make sure you connect with people who offer real substance in their updates and who aren’t just Twitter spammers.
- The 140-character limit is not optional. New Twitter users often get tripped up by the service’s 140-character limit. If you try to type more than 140 characters, your update could get cut off, making you look technically incompetent.
Even if you’re not interested in the social aspect of Twitter, it’s still valuable to have a presence on the site, at the very least to prevent someone from hijacking your identity online.
Gain a foothold in Google.
Considering that Google is the first place most people will go to research you, you should have a guaranteed and accurate presence there. That’s where your Google profile comes in.
To create your Google profile, log in to your Google account (create one if you haven’t already) and then visit https://profiles.google.com to fill out your profile. Add your biographical information, links to your other social networking profiles and a picture of yourself so that people in real life can distinguish you from others who might share your name.
Once your profile is up and running, you may choose to feature it as part of public searches. When you do this, your Google profile will appear as the 11th result, just below the top ten Google search results for your name.
The benefit of setting up a Google profile is twofold. First, it guarantees you a spot on your first page of Google results, and second, it helps distinguish you from other individuals who have the same name.
Here are a couple of tips for making a Google profile you can be proud of:
- Use a professional-looking headshot. The photo you post should be in good taste and actually look like you in “real” life.
- Link wisely. Google profiles offer a great opportunity to display links to your social networking profiles. But you should link only to those sites that provide strong reputation value.
Online reputation management is a growing concern for all professionals, and the most effective way to keep your name looking great is to actively promote your identity through social media and these must-have social networking sites.