Purifying Your Polluted Personal Brand

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Your personal brand
More and more people and companies are using the Internet to make decisions on everything from hiring employees to researching products and services before they buy. A recent survey by Cisco found that 74 percent of consumers research a product online before purchasing it. This presents a unique issue for professionals in sales and marketing. Not only do salespeople have to overcome any negative online branding for the company, but they also have the extra hurdle of overcoming any negativity in the company’s personal branding online.

Assess your brand
Your name is a brand and any potential client may be researching you while you are on a sales call. The first thing a client will do when researching a person or company is perform a Google search for your name or your name in conjunction with the company you’re calling from. To find out how your personal brand looks to clients, conduct the same Google searches.

Google isn’t the only place your brand can be tainted. Look through your social media posts to see if there’s anything a client could find offensive. Consider the following statistics from a recent Jobvite survey about what recruiters find offensive in a job candidate. According to Jobvite, recruiters responded negatively when they saw the following on social media profiles.

References to doing illegal drugs — 78 percent reacted negatively
Posts/tweets of a sexual nature — 66 percent reacted negatively
Profanity in posts/tweets — 61 percent reacted negatively
Spelling/grammar errors in posts or tweets — 54 percent reacted negatively
Pictures of consumption of alcohol — 47 percent reacted negatively
Overtly religious posts/tweets — 26 percent reacted negatively
Political posts/tweets — 18 percent reacted negatively

If you have any of these issues visible on your social profiles, consider removing them. If recruiters find these offensive, you can bet a client will find them offensive as well.

In addition to generalized Google searches for your name or your company name, you can also do specialized searches in Google for each social media site that you use. This search will search for everything Google knows about your name on Facebook and return posts, pages and pictures related to you. The same can be done for Twitter, etc.

Take action
Once your personal brand has been polluted in the search engines, it becomes exponentially more difficult to clean up as time goes on. That’s why it’s important to take pre-emptive or immediate action if you already have some personal branding issues. First, delete all posts and tweets that taint your personal brand. Delete any photos or content that could be offensive in nature. This includes any posts that contain content similar to the content listed in the Jobvite survey above.

There are several ways to prevent your social media profiles from portraying you or your company in a negative light. First, you could remove all potentially negative pictures, videos and content from your profile and refrain from posting anything questionable. This means you’ll also have to lock down your privacy settings so that friends cannot tag you in inappropriate pictures or videos.

Another option is to create a second set of profiles that don’t use your real name or profile picture. Keep the profiles that use your real name completely professional and use the other profiles for content of a more personal nature. This can get a bit tedious, but as long as your accounts are not connected to each other, personal brand pollution should not occur.

The third option is to lock down your privacy settings so that only your personal friends can see your content by default. For example, on Facebook you can set all of your posts so that they’re only visible to those people on your personal friend list When you have a post or picture of a business nature, you can change the visibility of the post to “public” so that anyone will be able to see it.

Build yourself as a brand
Cleaning your personal brand of content that generates a negative opinion of you is a necessity. Putting forward the most positive interpretation of your personal brand is also an equally important part of building up your reputation online.

When someone searches for you online, you want them to know you’re an authority in your chosen field. You want them to know you’re the expert they’re looking for. To help them reach this conclusion, you must demonstrate your expertise. Here are some ways to do this online:

  • Guest posting

Guest posting is a great way to improve your brand’s image. In a nutshell, guest posting is simply writing an article for websites or blogs owned by other people. Guest posts identify you as an authority in your field and add credibility by associating your name with another brand.

If you’re unfamiliar with the gust post process, there are free services on line that connect site owners with authors interested in providing content. Signing up for the following services will allow you to find an abundance of websites to write for:


  • Publish your own website/blog

While writing guest posts can be a great way to gain exposure and recognition in your field of expertise, they can also be time consuming and you’re at the mercy of the website owner, who gets to choose when, or if, your article gets published. To solve this problem, create your own website or blog to host your content.

Authoring your own work and publishing it on a website you own is relatively easy. If you have no experience with running a website, starting your own WordPress blog will be the easiest route to take.

First, you’ll need to purchase a domain name and hosting account through a hosting provider such as Hostgator. Once you do that, it’s simply a matter of installing WordPress and then writing and publishing content on your new blog. If you’re familiar with Microsoft Word, writing a blog post should be easy.

Going forward
More and more individuals and companies are researching potential business partners on Google and through social media websites. Considering the permanent nature of digital media—and the convoluted privacy practices of some social networking websites—it’s imperative that you do your due diligence and control how you’re being represented by your social media profiles. Finding and fixing issues that reflect poorly on your personal brand will take time and effort, but the end result will be an abundance of positive branding for you and the products you’re selling.

About Rick Biederer 10 Articles
Rick Biederer is a web business consultant with more than 12 years of experience working with the Internet on web productivity tools, search engine optimization and reputation management. Mr. Biederer also owns and operates FindIllinoisJobs.com, a website that connects job seekers with employment opportunities in Illinois. Follow him on Google Plus

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