Billionaire investor Warren Buffett once said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” With the Internet, you needn’t wait for the benefit of hindsight to realize your reputation mistakes though. Simply read on to discover five surefire ways to ruin your good name online.
Sending Spam Emails to Customers and Potential Clients
It’s easy for entrepreneurs to become enthusiastic about the (seemingly) free marketing that emailing affords. But often that enthusiasm can see companies sending the “unsolicited commercial” emails that the United States Department of Justice calls spam. Spam emails made up more than 70 percent of the emails sent in the second quarter of 2013.
Learning about permission marketing is the best way to ensure you’re sending emails the right way. This concept encourages marketers to collect email addresses legitimately and be transparent about the way they’ll use them, such as sending a weekly newsletter or notifying customers whenever new products are released.
Spam typically gets one response per 12.5 million emails sent. Is it really worth sacrificing your reputation for such a low return?
Being a Self-Centered Internet User
Just as it’s tempting to self-promote via email spam, it’s also easy to fall into the trap of only talking about yourself online. After all, psychologists have determined that the parts of the brain associated with rewards are activated when people can talk about themselves. They’ll even turn down free money for the opportunity! But while you might think your opinions are the most interesting online, your friends and followers are likely to disagree.
The internet is a place for collaboration. Remember the social part of social media. Communicate as you would offline, asking plenty of questions and acknowledging the people who interact with you. If you play the game, people in your online circle will be much more likely to listen when you do occasionally post about yourself.
Failing to Track Yourself
It might sound a little self-indulgent to Google yourself, but this kind of monitoring is essential for discovering what’s being said about you. A Google search is a basic way of assessing your online reputation, but investing in a social media monitoring dashboard can ramp up your monitoring efforts. But what should you do if you find your name tarnished by negative press and poor reviews?
In these situations it’s worth employing an online reputation manager like Reputation.com. These reputation experts effectively monitor your virtual representation, ensuring your private data is kept off the net and any negative content is suppressed.
Posting Inappropriate or Offensive Content
Controversial and humorous posts can get people talking, but if the content you post is inappropriate or offensive they might be chatting for the wrong reasons. Remember when Gap callously tweeted “All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of Gap.com shopping today. How about you?” What about when Celeb Boutique tweeted “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K #Aurora dress” following the fatal shootings at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. The online store even accompanied the tweet with a shopping link!
These tweets were hastily deleted following customer backlash, but not before blogs got wind of them. Through screenshots taken by followers and Twitter users, these public relations blunders life on.
No matter how many places you delete it from, internet content can live on. Online reputation managers can do their part and clean up your good name, but it’s better to avoid making such errors in the first place. If you wouldn’t say something to your grandmother, then don’t say it to your online audience.
Being a Negative Poster
We all know those people who never seem to have a good word to say about anything. Chances are, you don’t socialize with those people very often. So if you’re someone who only gets on social media to complain, why would anyone follow you?
Remember that the posts you make shape other people’s opinion of you. And due to the brain’s natural negative bias, the bad news sticks. Consider the studies John Cacioppo, Ph.D. conducted while he was at Ohio State University. Dr. Cacioppo showed subjects a series of pictures designed to stir up negative, neutral, and positive feelings. He recorded electrical activity in the brain’s cerebral cortex and found the strongest reactions occurred when subjects faced the negative pictures.
This negative bias means we need to post five positive posts for every negative post to achieve an image of balance. Remember this whenever you get the urge to start venting on social media. It might make you feel better in the short term, but eventually do more harm to your reputation than good.
Online mistakes can be costly, so tread carefully to protect your good name.