Editor’s note: This article is part of a featured series that tackles the basics of reputation management. In our Reputation Management 101 series, you’ll learn about basic (but important) concepts, tasks, and tips for reputation management. Each post will include actionable advice and realistic ideas that you can use — today — to improve your online reputation. Join us as we explore reputation management resources that everyone should know!
Most people think of social media as a resource for sharing baby photos, keeping up with friends and family, and goofing off online. But it’s more than just a social tool, it’s a reputation builder. It doesn’t matter whether you’re job seeking, attracting new clients, or maintaining a business, building a positive reputation on social media is a task that can pay dividends for years to come. The community and connections you create on social media will support your good reputation, just like old fashioned networking. That’s why it’s so important to develop a positive reputation on social media.
Of course, developing a positive reputation on social media is easier said than done. This is work that can’t be done in an instant. Rather, a positive reputation is the work of many small tasks spread out over weeks, months, and years. And while building your reputation on social media means you’re in it for the long haul, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start today. We’ve highlighted 24 ways you can build a positive reputation using social media, plus tips that can help you put your best foot forward.
- Develop a social media presence: Social media can be a scary place, but the good outweighs the bad. It’s always better to have a social media presence than none at all. After all, if you’re interested in building your reputation, you should be improving your visibility online, not hiding from it. Developing your reputation on social media gives you a chance to share your voice and tell others about yourself instead of letting someone else speak for you.
- Clean it up: You can’t talk about social media and reputation management in the same breath without first mentioning the need to do a spring cleaning. You social media profiles often act as your front door to the world, and they should not open up to a messy house. Review your profiles to ensure you’re putting out a positive persona that will help, not hinder, your reputation. You should look for racy, vulgar, or otherwise questionable photos, language, and posts, deleting anything that could potentially be embarrassing. Watch out for inflammatory posts, and especially complaints about work. Don’t forget to take a look at your connections as well. Who you’re friends with can say a lot about you, and believe it or not, can influence the way others view your reputation.
- Join or become active on key networks: You don’t have to join every social network, but it helps to be active on a few. Everyone has their preferences, and if you’re only on one or two networks, you could be missing out on connections that don’t use those networks. Plus, the more positive social media profiles you have, the better your search results. Remember that often, profiles on social media, particularly Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram tend to show up highly in search results for your name and your company’s name.
- Add keywords to your profile: A great way to be found online and support your reputation at the same time is to add relevant keywords to your social media profiles. Don’t go crazy with it, and you certainly shouldn’t add so much that you sound like a robot. But it’s a good idea to pepper your profiles with the words people should use to find you. Include your profession, area of expertise, and more. Use them in headlines, biography descriptions, and even photos where relevant.
- Use a professional photo: Social media is a very visual medium. More powerful than words, photos can really add to your networking power and build trust. Consider investing in a professional head shot if you’re working on your individual reputation, or have a photographer come out for a photo of your employees and/or facility. Logos are useful, but what users on social media really want to see is real life — and it should look as professional and positive as possible.
- Complete your profiles: People who are interested in learning more about your reputation crave information. Don’t hesitate to give it to them. You should add information about your history, interests, and of course, add photos. Use every opportunity to completely fill out your profile to add trust, personality, and proof of your expertise to your social media profiles.
- Back up credible information: Sure, you can send out your resume or type up your company history, but that doesn’t mean we all have to believe it. If you can back up your assertions with proof on social media, your reputation will be more credible. Share photos of your accomplishments, add connections from your past employers, and develop a viewable timeline of professional events on social media that anyone can see — even if you’re just starting it from this moment on.
- Earn social proof: You know you’re a positive individual or company to work with, and you can can say it for yourself, but it’s best if others say it for you. Social media is a great way to develop social proof. Earn reviews on Facebook, endorsements and recommendations on LinkedIn, and more. Plus, you can build connections with former and current coworkers, employees, partners, and business associates. This is a great way to show that you work well with others, and that others enjoy working with you.
- Be professional, but show your personality: It’s always a good idea to be yourself and show your personality. It’s fun, and that’s what social networking is all about! But it should go without saying that you should still act professionally. Be polite, avoid arguments (especially public ones), filter your photos and posts, and be sure that everything you’re putting out there reflects positively on you as a professional.
- Don’t be a blowhard: Social media was built for sharing, but be careful that you’re not making it all about yourself. While sharing your accomplishments and interests is one thing, no one likes to see blatant, repeated self promotion. Don’t make it all about yourself. Be sure to share updates from others as well and show genuine interest in what others are contributing.
- Remember that nothing is private: Anything can be shared on social media, even behind privacy walls. Sure, it may take a few extra steps, but it’s easy enough to hit print or do a screen shot — and then your status, new update, or photo can be shared with anyone, even if they aren’t in your friends list, connections, or authorized to follow you. It’s best to assume that anything you put out there has the potential to be shared with anyone else — because it can be.
- Handle negative complaints: Most individuals don’t receive negative complaints in public social media forums, but businesses may face this issue often. People are talking about companies online more often these days, and there’s a good chance they’ll take it to your home turf: your Facebook page, Yelp profile, LinkedIn, or by calling out your name on Twitter. You should be prepared to respond positively and professionally, and resolve complaints quickly. It’s never a good idea to ignore your fans or customers, and this is especially true on social media.
- Don’t feed trolls: Some social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn tend to be more private and often don’t attract trolls. But others like YouTube and even Twitter can be riddled with them. Trolls typically post just to pester others and sling mud. It’s best just to not engage and only respond to comments and critiques from legitimate users and sources.
- Share industry news: It’s a great idea to become a news source that others enjoy following. This can help you attract your target audience and connect with like minded people. Of course, make sure it’s interesting and relevant — and avoid continually posting extremely popular news that everyone’s probably already heard elsewhere. Let others know what you’re interested in and what you think is important to share.
- Applaud others: Your connections are likely to share their best highlights on social media, whether they’re putting on a successful event, winning awards, or just completing a project they are proud of. Give them a pat on the back publicly, acknowledging and celebrating what they’ve done. Supporting others helps to deepen your connections, and recognizing good work from others makes you look better, too.
- Show off your great work: While it’s not a good idea to make social media all about yourself, you can show off what you’re proud of online. Use social media as a portfolio, linking to your accomplishments, news, and projects that you’re proud of. Create photo albums on Facebook, add links to your LinkedIn, create pins of important links and events on Pinterest, and more.
- Share your quality content: Use social media as a platform to create and share excellent content that shows off your expertise, supports your good reputation, and adds value to those who follow you.
- Build connections: Perhaps the most important way you can build a positive reputation on social media is to simply connect with others. Developing good relationships is one of the best ways to work on your reputation, and social networking makes it incredibly easy to do. Don’t be shy. Connect with employers, recruiters, and influencers in your industry, and of course, don’t neglect people you already know, including coworkers, employees, associates, and even friends and family. Pay attention to who your connections are talking to, and consider connecting with people suggested by the network, such as Facebook and LinkedIn’s People You May Know features. Plus, keep in mind that connecting and interacting with employers and business associates is a great way to show interest.
- Join the conversation: Social networking offers an incredible opportunity to connect with others worldwide. You can join groups, participate in chats, and create or join in on discussions. This is a great way to learn from others and build your network. But even more importantly, participating in discussions on social networks allows you to show off your expertise and knowledge in a public forum. Make it a point to participate in conversations that will allow you to help and educate others in the topics you can offer your expertise in.
- Develop a community: It doesn’t matter if you’re an individual or a large brand: you have the potential to create a community. Engage with others, encourage them to connect with each other, and develop posts that foster communication not just with you, but with each other. A strong community is a great tool for backing up your good reputation.
- Create viral content: Want to be known for something? Viral content is a great way to improve your visibility and add to your reputation. Just be careful, as viral content typically takes on a life of its own.
- Communicate during a crisis: Whether your website has gone down or you’ve ended up on the news, social media can be a powerful tool for retaining a positive reputation. Reach out to customers and let them know what’s going on. It’s always best to communicate openly rather than hide behind a crisis.
- Take connections offline: Your reputation doesn’t just exist online, and neither should your networking. But the online world can help you offline, and vice versa. Use social media to learn about important events, news, and networking opportunities in your industry and take your networking offline — but remember to take photos, make connections, and share updates that help you to build your reputation online as well.
- Monitor your conversation: Social media isn’t just about what you’re saying online — what people are saying about you matters, too. Use social media to monitor for mentions of your name or your brand name so that you can stay on top of the conversation about you. You can also use social media to respond and keep others from tarnishing your good name.
Want to know more about building a positive reputation? Stay tuned for our upcoming guide to positive reputation management for job seekers!