Is it time to talk to a professional? We look at the most common signs you need a reputation management firm to protect your online brand.
A basic reputation-management plan involves a touch of technical know-how, a moderate amount of basic skill, a bit of time and a great deal of persistence. On the surface, it seems like something anyone could handle without the help of an expert. And in the United States, we all love projects we can handle without outside help. That’s probably why the term “How to DIY” was one of the top search terms of 2014, per CNET. If it’s possible, people want to do things alone.
But is a DIY reputation management plan best for everyone? I’m not so sure. In fact, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that the majority of people will need help from a company like mine in order to get the cleanup done right. Not convinced?
5 Signs You Need a Reputation Management Firm
Check out these 5 signs you need a reputation management firm to protect your online footprint:
1. Anger is an issue for you
In general, the internet is a pretty nice place. But there’s a small subset of users that just love to write nasty comments that spark ire. A study highlighted by Slate suggests that about 5.6 percent of users enjoy “trolling,” or seeking out online conflicts. There’s no personal ire here, they do it for the chuckles. If you’re spending any kind of time online, you’re likely to run into one or two of these people. And the comments they hurl your way could make you incredibly angry, especially if they’re attacking something you hold dear, like your kids, your spouse or your personal beliefs.
When you’re angry, you’re tempted to strike back with insults, curses or threats. All of that spells reputation disaster, and it’s just not smart. If you can’t keep your temper under control when you’re facing intense online pressure, it’s best to let the pros do the work for you. A professional is much less likely to take offense to an attack, and that pro will probably just delete the comment altogether. That’s a smart reputation move.
2. Your writing skills aren’t up to par
A reputation-management campaign is built with words. You’ll write blog posts, update social media accounts, create press releases and chat up people in the comments section. Every single one of these opportunities could lead to reputation disaster if your grammar skills aren’t quite up to par. In general, I think that everyone should get out there and write, regardless of grammar skills. But a lot of people just don’t agree with me.
Check out the flak I got in the comments in this Search Engine Journal piece about grammar and blogging. There are a lot of passionate people who think that only skilled writers should be working online. And, take a peek at this blog post from the Harvard Business Review. That writer says that poor grammar is indicative of intelligence. Those who can write well seem smarter and more employable, to him, than those that can’t. So if you’re consistently under attack at the moment for confusing your/you’re and its/it’s, it might be best to let professional writers do the work for you. Your reputation may depend on it.
3. You’re not sure about coding
There are a number of things you can do online that don’t require technical know-how. For example, you can slap up comments on social media without any coding, and you can use tools like Blogger to create a no-code blog. Easy-peasy. But, in order to achieve real reputation dominance, you’ll need to know at least a little about how the internet works.
You’ll need to know what keywords are all about, and you’ll need to know how to tag your blog posts properly, so the search engines can find them. And for many people, that kind of technical expertise is just difficult to attain.
Consider this: In a (somewhat discredited) study quoted by the New Republic, some survey respondents thought the term “HTML” referred to a sexually transmitted disease. The true number of people with this level of misunderstanding isn’t quite clear, but still. If you have no idea what HTML is, you probably have no idea what a title tag, page markup or GIF is, either. And that could hinder your reputation progress.
4. You don’t have time to handle the problem
The online world moves at light speed. In fact, according to a Buffer analysis, top brands respond to a tap on Twitter within about 19 minutes. That’s an amazingly short time, and it’s what most users have come to expect.
If you don’t have time to sit right next to your computer to answer the next question or handle the latest comment, you could be doing your reputation a great deal of harm. Reputation-management companies thrive at a fast pace. There are people available to handle almost anything, at any time, without growing fatigued. If you don’t have the energy or the time to do that yourself, a company could be a great option.
5. You find self-promotion difficult
Social media gurus often suggest an 80/20 mix of content. That means 80 percent of the time, you should be hyping up someone else, and 20 percent of the time, you should be discussing your own killer attributes.
Can you discuss the awards you’ve won, the time you’ve donated, the work you’ve completed or the compliments you’ve gotten? Can you do that without making yourself feel ill? If you can’t, hire someone to do it. Posts you write while uncomfortable come off as clunky and stiff, and that won’t help your reputation. Let someone else do the promoting if you just can’t stomach it.