Protecting your personal brand essentially means protecting your reputation, and it mostly refers to your online presence. When you type your name into Google, LinkedIn, or Twitter, for example, that’s your personal brand.
If your Twitter picture is you falling down drunk then you may want to rethink that choice. However, sometimes your personal brand is damaged by a different person or organization, which isn’t ideal at all.
Here are 5 ways to keep your personal brand squeaky clean.
1. Please, please, be careful about what you post online
We’ve all been there. It’s the office Christmas party, or a night out with your friends, and you’ve had one too many. You’re a little bit all over the place, and there are some pictures of you drooling in an Uber, with rude lipstick drawings all over your face.
We get it, this is funny at the time, and you probably have a good laugh remembering all of these moments with your friends. But think: do you really want this picture to be the first thing that comes up when an employer seeks out your personal brand on Google?
The same rule applies here for extreme politics, and controversial opinions online. Whatever your views are, think about your personal brand before you send out that Tweet.
You don’t want to be that guy who wrote something stupid and lost his job for it. 43% of recruiters admit that they check out social channels before offering somebody a job.
So, think about who you want to look like online: the person who keeps retweeting cat videos (= wholesome) or the person who posts things that are embarrassing, and could get you sacked. Definitely not as wholesome as the cats.
Develop your personal brand positively online, and think about what people would want to see if they were thinking about employing you.
2. If you think that content shouldn’t be there, then fight it
The problem with the internet is that once something gets out there, it’s really hard to control it. Sure, you’ve deleted the embarrassing picture from your account, but other people may have saved it, and potentially posted it elsewhere.
There is nothing worse than typing your name into Google and seeing the photo that you thought you’d deleted. Please, Uber drooling photo. Stop following me around.
However, there are some things that you can do to save your personal brand. Google itself can be a bit of a nightmare when it comes to removing pictures, as they don’t own the actual content, so this is a non-starter unless the picture is really bad.
Asking the person who posted it to delete it is the first step, and most people will do so. Ignoring your request would be rude, and weird, but some people might do this. There are some ways to bury the content, which we’ll go into next.
Ultimately, asking Google for help could help you, so it is worth a try. The website that hosts the image should be the first port of call, though, as Google can only remove it from the search engine, not from the web forever. If you need further assistance on removing online content go here.
3. Bury unwanted content if you can’t get it removed
So, Google won’t get rid of your unwanted content, and the person who posted it won’t take it down. ‘Oh no,’ you may think, ‘all of my avenues are exhausted, and my personal brand is ruined forever’.
However, don’t lose all hope yet because burying those old pictures could do the trick.
One thing to remember is that Google really likes social media so you could get other images to rank higher if you regularly post them to social media – particularly sites like Twitter and LinkedIn – and set your profile picture to something that upholds your personal brand.
You can also improve your personal brand by setting up your own website (or blog) and adding a lot of images to that, too. Make sure that you put your name on them if you want them to appear on Google when somebody searches for you.
Ultimately, it’s a good idea to play Google at its own game here. Post more pictures, get them to rank higher, and keep creating fresh (and clean) content that will dominate the search engines.
Again, don’t forget to save them under your name, and add your name in where you can.
4. Use SEO, and use it wisely
OK, so you may have heard about SEO, or search engine optimization. This is something worth looking into if you’re not too clued up about it, as it’s a great way to make sure that you keep on top of your personal brand.
Let’s say that you want to boost an article about all of the good deeds that you’ve done. Good idea, and great news for your personal brand.
All you have to do is to make sure that the links of the good articles are on more websites. The more sites that link to it, the higher it will rank on Google.
For example, if you’re a professional and you want to make sure that all of the good stuff comes up first, you could write some guest posts on some well-established blogs, and link them back to your positive articles.
If you’re trying to get rid of a picture, make sure to use different professional photos for each website that you appear on. This is another way to get rid of the Uber drool photo, while making sure that the posts that come up when somebody Google searches your name are squeaky clean.
SEO can be difficult, and you can’t just use spam links to improve your personal brand. You need to use original content, on legitimate blogs and websites, if you want to take this route.
5. Work on putting out a good image from the beginning
Ultimately, the best way to protect your personal brand is to keep on adding to your positive image as time passes by, and to try not to put out a bad image at any point of your professional journey.
At the beginning of your career, a poor personal brand can make you a no-go, and if you’ve managed to build up a reputation later on into your career, then one little mistake can ruin your personal branding. If you think that something could affect your reputation, then don’t do it.
A personal brand is something that you carry with you in your day-to-day life, and it isn’t just about your online presence.
Every business decision that you make will serve to shape it, so make sure that you do all that you can to preserve it online, and in person.
If somebody is thinking about hiring you, or wants to work with you, then they will remember that time that you had too many drinks at a corporate event, and said things that you probably shouldn’t have.
Create a personal, professional brand, and carry it through no matter where you are.
You can have any (legal, preferably) kind of life that you want to have outside of business, but you should go to great lengths to keep the two separate. Only have pictures taken with people that you trust, and those who care about your reputation.A personal brand is something that you carry with you in your day-to-day life. Every business decision that you make will serve to shape it, so make sure that you do all that you can to preserve it online, and in person. #Youpreneur Click To Tweet
Your personal brand is something that you should cherish like it’s your newborn baby. It has the same potential to lead to sleepless nights, and this is not something that you want to be worrying about when you should be getting on with your business commitments.
We all make mistakes in life, and you may find yourself facing some kind of issue with images on Google, or something that could ruin your reputation. Quite a few people have been in that boat, and you shouldn’t be punished for having a good time.
However, unfortunately, this is how the world of business works, and those things will come back to haunt you if you don’t stamp them out as soon as you can. You should try all of the avenues suggested here if you find yourself in that position before you freak out about your career being officially over.
To recap, be careful about what you’re posting online in the first place. If something does happen, then ask the people and websites involved to remove it, and contact Google.
If that doesn’t work, try to bury the things that are damaging your personal brand, and bury them deep. Create as much content as you can to get them to the bottom of the pile when it comes to ranking. SEO is also one way to do this.
If you ever do need any assistance when it comes to your personal brand, speak to a strategist, who could help you to work out the most viable option for you and your Uber drool photo.
Frankie Lee is an expert in the field of online reputation management, specifically removing online content. He has represented several of the worlds biggest brands in the fitness & fashion industry through ContentRemoval.com. He’s passionate about online business & building a successful personal brand. Frankie is based between Peterborough, UK and Gold Coast, Australia.