With the proliferation of social channels, it’s getting more complicated to manage your online reputation. That’s why it pays to watch what the experts in the field are doing.
In a recent interview, Michael Fertik, the founder and CEO of Reputation.com, shared his insights on trends in online reputation management, as well as his own strategies for communicating via social media.
1. Images matter more than ever
In the past few years, the rise of image-based social sites like Instagram and Pinterest have made it essential to scrutinize the images that represent you, says Fertik. “Photos are becoming more important as a decider of how successful – or not – we look online.” He urges professionals to “have your photo array match your general outlook, the look and feel you’re going for…That doesn’t mean you have to become an Instagram aficionado, but you can’t ignore photos, whether it’s on Twitter or LinkedIn.”
Approximately every fifth post, he suggests, you should try to upload an image that you feel is representative of the brand you’d like to convey to the world, such as “something you’re working on, or how you’re contributing to your business or to your career. It can be about your family, but it should be a germane and accurate reflection of what you’re doing.”
2. Everyone’s getting reviewed
It’s not just restaurants that are feeling heat from Yelp reviews. These days, says Fertik, there’s been “an explosion of digital review sites. They’re getting much more vertical-specific, much better, and more nuanced…People are businesses now and must act accordingly. If you’re in almost any kind of business, reviews turn out to be very important. Reviews of your book, your consulting business, as a performer, as a professional – that’s super important now, much more than it used to be.”
3. Share your personal side — strategically
When it comes to your online reputation, creating smart, professional content — such as blog posts or a high-quality feed of Instagram images –matters. “Publishing is useful no matter what; original content is useful at whatever level you’re able to manage,” he says.
You want to focus your efforts on the area that you’d like to be known for; Fertik centers his own posts around business and entrepreneurship. But it’s also OK, and even desirable, to share a more personal side — if you’re strategic about what feels comfortable to you and is in alignment with your personal brand.
Fertik, known for his wry sense of humor, enjoys sharing that online, as well as his passion for fiction. “I let people in on my personal side by letting them into my writing. It’s not that everybody wants to read my writing, but if you want to know me, that’s a good way.” But he chooses not to talk about his family publicly. “I do think there are some people who can personalize themselves and make themselves very relatable by [sharing their personal lives online]…I just realized it’s not me.”
In general, says Fertik, the public has clued into the fact that having keg party photos of you online is a bad idea. But that’s only half the story. “The biggest mistake people make is they think that if they don’t do something dumb online, they don’t have a digital reputation to worry about. They’re not getting the fact that everyone has a reputation,” and it’s essential to think about how to shape it proactively, as well. By becoming more cognizant of the power of images, reviews, and sharing your personal interests, it’s possible take control and harness the positive power of your online brand.
By Dorie Clark
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future.