From selfie-nation to selfie-damnation. How social media posts about yourself can both signal progression and retrogression.
Today – whether you like it or not – social media has unknowingly become part of our lives. What people say, tweet, or post about you, and you of yourself, form your image; your digital reputation.
Gone are the days where gossip and media mentions are reserved only for the rich and famous. Today, ‘reporting’ and ‘publishing’ prowess lies with anyone with a smart device and internet connection.
It is more important than ever, that we learn why we should harness our digital reputation, and how to do it to the best of our advantage.
Reputation vs Character
Most people are confused between “reputation” and “character”. The dictionary says: Reputation is the belief and opinions held by members of the public and character is the qualities of a person (or organisation).
Reputation can be crafted. Character is what a person truly is.
Most of us like to equate reputation to character, so that it truly represents what we stand for, and how people see us. But very often, this may not be the case given that anyone can post something about anybody.
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” – Benjamin Franklin
What’s My Digital Reputation? How Can I Find Out?
Sadly, there are not many tools available to assess your reputation. For starters, such information may not be found easily in the public domain. Some people go through the old-school surveys, asking customers or business partners questions what they think about the organisation. For some, they consider reputation as whether the individual or organisation is facing a series of problems, such as lawsuits, poor product reviews, negative media or fraud cases. Some simply gather from review sites or through word-of-mouth.
Social Media – An Absolute Game Changer
Volkswagen is one good example. In September 2015, the automobile brand was found to have installed a “defeat device”, which changes its mileage results when tested – When news broke of “Volkswagen Caught Cheating!” it was quickly coupled with its share of bad news in 2004 with the Touran, and a nail was firmly lodged on its bad-rep coffin. Volkswagen’s reputation today, is still at stake. A simple Google search of “Volkswagen” will get you “Volkswagen” scandal, unreliable Volkswagen, etc…
“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” – Abraham Lincoln
Coming back to the potency of online articles, comments, and postings out there, what exactly are people saying about me or my brand? Do you know? Or do you think it’s not worth the bother, buried in the knowledge that what you don’t know won’t hurt you? You couldn’t be more wrong!
Here are some free tools that you could use:
Google provides a neat tool that allows you to discover content surrounding a topic of interest. Just head over to http://www.google.com/alerts , get a Google account, key in a topic or your name and see what it does for you. You might want to note that this does not include conversations on social media platforms.
Talkwalker provides a clean interface similar to Google Alerts. It provides alerts on News, Blogs or Forum discussions. Same thing as Google Alerts, not quite able to search social media platforms. But, it’s free!
Mention is one of my favourite tool for someone with a small budget. I liked how it was able to track some of the conversations on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, in addition to the usual alerts by Google or Talkwalker. You could also set it up to compare yourself or your products against your competitors. It is not free though but they offer a 14-days free trial to try things out.
Closing the Gap
Once you know what people are saying about you, it is time to reflect if your reputation matches your character. If the conversations do not associate with who or what you really are, ask the following questions:
- Who are the key influencers and which channels are talking about me?
- What can I do to improve on the association with the identified channel?
- What articles/blog post/influencer contributes to the current association?
- How do I go about setting it right?
Be specific with the answers and set a timeline. This would progressively improve the association and bring it closer to reality.
Reputation requires time and effort to build up. A good reputation, online and offline, will benefit you and/or your organisation for a long time. New opportunities, new partnerships or even new friends on social media platforms will come knocking.
Take some time off today, discover your reputation. Remember that whatever that is posted online sticks for a long time. Reputation is everything, including that selfie which you might have regretted posting. Manage your reputation well and reap the rewards in time to come.
Adrian is the co-founder of drep.asia – a Digital Reputation Discovery and Management Partner. Adrian has been helping individuals and organisations over the past 7 years in managing their digital reputation and digital footprints. He can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org