I have talked about the importance of monitoring your online reputation and the tools that help you do it effectively. The web 2.0 era demands that you keep a track of what's being said about you online. It's a part of what one might call being informed.
Having said that, I think what's more important is what you say and do on the web and how you manage your online reputation. Managing online reputation, in my opinion, is a different than monitoring it; in fact, it's a completely different ballgame. It's the first stage of building your brand on the web and has to start even before you think about monitoring the brand.
If you aren't sure how to go about managing your online reputation, the following tips should help you get started. Check them out.
Think Before You Write
One important thing people don't understand is that when they email, tweet, or comment on blogs, is, that whatever they type is written record. In many cases, the comments can be held against you in a court of law any day. There are enough examples of celebrities landing in trouble due to their tweets, aren't there?
The bottom-line is this: just because you can type anything online doesn't mean you should type anything. Not only does it reflect on you as a person, but, an inappropriate sentence typed in haste could go a long way in damaging your brand. So, think before you write. Doesn't matter if it's a tweet, a blog comment, an email, anything...just take a step back for a second and take a careful look before you hit the send button.
Facebook Privacy Settings
Being the biggest online social network, it's imperative that we take our behavior on Facebook into consideration when we are talking about managing online reputation. The first step in this case would be to make yourself aware of Facebook's privacy settings. Ali did a nice roundup of them in one of her articles. You can also check out this guide to new Facebook privacy settings, and steps to disable Facebook places.
Once you are all set with privacy and other settings, the next step is to get your profile in order and remove unnecessary stuff. People often use Facebook to share very personal and private stuff which they should be ideally sharing face-to-face (or over email/phone). This is not recommended especially when there have been Facebook privacy disasters in the past.
Research Social Sites & Adapt Accordingly
Understand that just because everyone seems to be on that cool new social site doesn't mean you have to be there too. Don't join social sites impulsively. Think about the pros and cons first, and see if the site is actually helpful.
Some people spend their entire day on Digg while for some, there's hardly anything beyond Twitter. Hence see which site suits your needs and adapt accordingly.
Perform Ego Searches Often
Even though you might have been careful in your online interactions, things may not always go as smooth as you want them to. People might bad-mouth you on other sites or forums and try to damage your image. Hence it is recommended to perform ego searches i.e. searching for your name or brand on Google and checking the results that come up.
Build Trust and Get Followers
Finally, it all boils down to two things: trust and relationships. And they are valued in the online world as much as they are in the real world. At the end of the day, we are the same humans; it's the mode of interaction that is different.
So, try to build trust and develop long lasting relationships. This can be done by helping others, sharing your knowledge through a medium like a blog, providing incredible value through your services, doing something unique and different..there's no dearth of ways but as in the real world, building trust online also takes time and effort. But if you are patient and consistent, it isn't that difficult.