In today’s digital landscape, no one can escape the scrutiny of the Internet’s eye.
We’ve all heard the stories of some scandalous picture that surfaced on Facebook or overheard others talking in the company break room about what “Jane Doe” tweeted the other day about another employee or even you – her boss.
It’s no secret that more small businesses are using social media to recruit and vet new hires and the Internet plays a larger role in the way your company and others size up new business partners, job candidates, suppliers and more. But, while you’re vetting others, don’t be naive in thinking that other companies and customers aren’t sizing you up too.
Here are five simple ways to clean up your “online” act and create a more positive Internet presence for your small business:
1. Distinguish your business name.
Distinguishing yourself from others on the Internet with a similar business name as yours can minimize any confusion surrounding a company that sounds like yours which frequently shows up on Rip-off Reports. Become aware of your company’s presence in major search engines and publish content under your business name.
Also, maximize your company’s search rank awareness by listing on larger consumer, trade, social and industry-related websites when possible. For example, you may want to ensure you have a presence on Wikipedia, Crunchbase, and prominent social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest). “Social media sites, especially the power houses of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, have become backlink central for affecting organic search results,” according to ClickZ.
2. Put your best foot forward.
Consider this: nothing is private online and everything posted to public social networks can be used in a court of law, so post carefully. If your business is involved in a legal dispute with suppliers don’t take to social media to vent. Even if you’re ready to share good news about a boost in company sales or user engagement – beware. Let Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings serve as a cautionary tale:
Earlier this month, SEC “regulators [took] issue over a [Facebook] message Hastings sent in July about Netflix users watching over a billion hours on the streaming video service during the previous month. While the company’s stock did receive a 20 percent increase after the news was communicated on Facebook, Hastings said that wasn’t the purpose of the message.”
While your company may be privately-held today, don’t let your past “social postings” catch up with you down the road when you’re ready to go public or secure additional capital.
3. Maintain brand consistency across all content published to the web.
Never hesitate to develop a clear content strategy — even “well-known industry players are starting to say that content strategy is the new SEO.” Your immediate public – suppliers, customers, partners, investors, etc. – should know what to expect from your online communications.
The style, tone, information and conversations you hold in your company blog, social media networks, guest articles and so on should be consistent. Look to create massive value and clearly communicate your brand message.