The internet is a big (virtual) place. If you make money online or have any sort of public internet presence at all, it can seem like you are just one tiny pixel on an endless screen of static. Most people struggle to get their voices heard at all in the endless miasma of the interconnected world. But some people have another problem. They get noticed for the wrong reasons. They are slighted, maligned, slandered, and generally whined about in very visible spaces. How are you supposed to continue your online business if your reputation is in danger of getting destroyed because of bad press online or anonymous posts and bad reviews?
There are a few answers to this question, and each of them will apply differently based on the type of business you own and the situation you might currently be dealing with. The good news is that you have plenty of options to choose from — five of which I’ve laid out for you below.
Haters Gonna Hate!
Truth be told, no matter what you do or how much you try to please everyone… you are going to have haters. Just take a look at some of the most successful people, celebrities and brands in the world today. They didn’t get to where they are because they let the haters get to them — and after all, that’s what the haters want anyway, right? One of my favorite examples of this is in one of Kobe Bryant’s last commercial during his retirement year he hits the game winning shot and everyone starts booing him. Kobe then becomes “the conductor” and walks off the stage. Yes, Kobe was hated (and loved) throughout the years, but without the haters, his brand never would have become what it is today.
Dominate the Search Results for Your Name
One of the best ways to defend your good name and reputation online is to make sure you have a protective wall built around your personal or brand name in the search results. While this is easier said than done, it is something everyone should be working on over time. Google “Zac Johnson” and you will see I pretty much dominate the whole first page for my name. The only competition I have it a presence every once in while from “Zach Johnson” who is a professional golfer that gets major media coverage.
The good news is, ranking in the search results and building a protective wall around your name and brand isn’t that difficult (as long as your name isn’t super generic or shares the name of a celebrity). The secret to owning the whole first page of Google lies within ranking your own sites and social properties. If you don’t already own your name as a domain, that is a must. Social profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube all rank extremely well and fast — all you need to do is point some quality backlinks to them with your personal or brand name.
Replicate this process and interlink all of your sites and social properties together and you will quickly start seeing them all move up in the search results.
Improve Your Game and Make Your Wrongs Right
If people hate you on the internet and it’s your fault, maybe it’s time to do a little soul-searching and self-improvement. I’m not saying that every person/business should immediately roll over in submission the moment someone has something sour to say, but sometimes this is your shortest path to a better future. One of the best/worst things about the internet is that it has a short memory. If you have a scandal on your hands, it’ll be yesterday’s news if you can clean up shop. Sure, some people will hold a grudge, and some people find it really hard to outrun their bad past, but you can create new customers on the foundation you’ve laid correcting your mistakes.
Whether you are an individual, brand or business, one of the best ways to clear up any wrongdoings, is to simply come out and apologize, then move on. Even going back to our first point, this is exactly what Kobe Bryant did when he held a public news conference and admit his guilt. It wasn’t each, but afterwards everyone moved on.
Hire a Reputation Management Company
As online marketers and SEO experts, we know what it takes to rank in the search results and have somewhat reasonable control over how we look online. On the flip side, should this happen to any random person, politician or celebrity, things can escalate quickly!
When you know you did something wrong or that bad news/PR is headed your way, that’s probably when it’s a good idea to start looking at professional PR management services. For those times when things get ugly, and there’s no way to fix them on your own, a simple search in Google for “reputation management” will quickly provide you with numerous resources. The Reputation Management Company is one such example of a company who contends with bad press online. They can scrub out highly visible internet comments and smear campaigns, so you can rebuild your brand reputation on or around that rubble.
The big difference between trying to repair any damage on your own versus using an outside ORM service is that most of them already have connections in high places, which means they can move at a much faster and more effective pace. Of course, such premium services and swift actions also come at a price.
Fight Your Own Battles
When it comes to internet spats, it sometimes pays to know when to fight back. Remember when Steve Jobs answered that complaint email from some dude on the internet? That was amazing! The guy was put in his place, and everyone else on the web knew that you don’t just mess with Steve Jobs or say that he doesn’t know his business. Of course, Steve Jobs is no longer alive, and you are certainly not his replacement in the cultural zeitgeist, but you may still be able to stick up for yourself nonetheless.
The main thing is to only do this when you know you’re in the right. Don’t engage in petty spats that make you look like you have a thin skin. Do engage in internet spats when someone is blatantly misrepresenting your brand, other people are believing what they say, and you have a special talent for setting these kinds of people straight. When attempting to defend your name or brand in an open forum (such as a site forums, social networks of live chat/webinar/conference), know that outside parties can add their own two-cents and quickly escalate the situation and even make things worse!
How to Protect Your Name and Reputation Online
There are lots of ways to defend yourself online, but most of them fall into one of these five categories. Don’t let internet scuffles snuff out your brand, personal identity or even what you may think of yourself. If you can get out from the clutches of the internet trolls, you’ll likely build a brand that works in the long term.
To learn more about how to protecting your brand and good name online, refer to my 97 reputation management resources article.