Some employers are using the Internet to check up on potential employees before making hiring decisions, but did you realize that potential clients could be checking up on small business owners, too? Making sure you know what is being said about you and your company on the Internet should be a regular part of your business activities. Use these three tips to keep track of your online brand:
- Create a Google alert of your name, company name and web site address. Google will send you an email daily, weekly or as it happens when one of your search items is found on someone’s web site, blog or in the news. Visit http://www.google.com/alerts to set up these emails. In addition to making sure your brand image stays positive, Google alerts will also be helpful for monitoring the results of advertising or public relations campaigns. Go on and set up your alert when you are finished reading the article. Not only will you be able to keep track of how your brand is being used, but it’s also cool to get an email from Google with your name in it!
- Perform regular searches for yourself in the popular search engines. The Google alert is designed to catch recent information about you, such as when you post a comment to someone’s blog or when your press release is distributed online. It won’t, however, send you details on things that have been on the net for awhile. To view this data, use Google, Yahoo, Bing or your search engine of choice to look up your name and company. Set aside one day every week or two and record what comes up. This way you will notice changes the next time you perform the search.
- Monitor what your friends post about you on social networking sites. While you may be diligent about protecting your online brand, your friends may not. Check their pages from time to time and make sure there are no incriminating photos. Yes, your customers like to know that you are human and have interests outside of work, but having a picture floating around of you in a drunken stupor is a little too personal. Words can also be damaging. Make sure a colleague is not recounting your “client from hell” story, with specific information, via his or her profile. While it may be funny, you do not want to turn off potential clients who may fear being the next subject of a joke or story.
Use these tips to keep track of your online brand. Remember, you cannot change something you don’t know about, so set up your Google alert, search for yourself online and check out the photos you are tagged in on Facebook. Make sure your online brand represents who you are today and how you want to be perceived. Did you find something negative associated with your name or company? Come back in a couple of days to read our follow-up article, which discusses what to do if you find something negative about yourself online.