The popular party game, “two truths and a lie” played upon friends’ inability to distinguish truth from fiction. It amused soiree attendees with exaggerated truths and outright falsehoods, blended among outrageous true stories. Perhaps fake news had similar beginnings, friends forwarding friends urban legends by email. But those things soon became verifiable through sites like Snopes and FactCheck. Then came social media and the age of the email forwarded urban legends became the era of fake news posts. An intense political climate fueled the fire, where people lived in insular worlds and wanted to believe anything that re-confirmed their own ideology.
Somewhere over in Macedonia teenagers made thousands of dollars manufacturing such fake news, but few of the click-bait victims/posters learned that truth. Against such a backdrop, where reputations can be made or broken with a simple repost or retweet, how do you manage your online reputation?
Online Reputation Management Tips
Regardless of the source (more on that later), a few simple steps can help you stay on top of most social media reputation concerns. Before you even begin these steps, though, make sure you have appointed someone within your organization as the one responsible for social media and online reputation. (It can’t be everyone, but it also should not be no one!)
- Be absolutely accurate—If you make a statement about your company, or if you forward on or link to a story that relates to your business, be sure you have verified statements and sources.
- Be authentic—Part of why social media took off in the first place is because it seemed like a way to interact (even with celebrities! even with political leaders!) in a casual enough forum to be authentic. Be real and genuine and transparent when you post. People don’t get online to feel like they are being fed from a PR machine.
- Be aware—Social media reputation management requires that you join the conversation. Just because you are not there does not mean you are not being talked about. So, get on top of that and hop on—utilize the tools your potential customers use, not just existing clients. Top resources to utilize include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, review sites, your own blogs or articles, and news media. If any of those sound intimidating, don’t be alarmed. That is another way you can utilize a professional (more on that later).
- Respond quickly—Don’t leave negative posts out there undisputed. Coordinate a response, respond quickly, and respond with specificity. That doesn’t mean fly off the handle and react to every negative comment—that can quickly spiral out of control! But do respond with accuracy and authority, ideally in a way that corrects any wrongs and sets the story straight.
These four steps should be considered a critical part of any business management plan in the twenty-first century.
Online Reputation Management Consultants
If an online reputation management plan is not part of your overall marketing strategy and business plan, consider calling the professionals. Just as your own IT department may maintain your website, but you likely still hired a professional to set up your site, hiring online reputation management consultants can help you get an appropriate reputation management strategy going.
Ideally, your online reputation management consultants will identify current threats to your reputation, assist to eradicate or nullify such threats, and maximize your online presence. Keep the party games, then, to actual parties. Combat the fake news epidemic and be in control of your own social media presence with effective online reputation management techniques and the right professional assistance.