Have you ever looked back at your younger self and regretted some of the pictures and quotes you posted online? You’re not alone.
In the current digital age, the thoughts you share on social media and on the Internet can have a serious impact on the way people perceive you.
Post a lot of selfies on your Instagram? That says something about how you perceive yourself. Insult a lot of people on your Twitter? That says something else.
As an individual who is working towards building up a profitable business, it’s important to present yourself responsibly if you want people to take you seriously.
Azealia Banks, who I wouldn’t necessarily call “responsible”, but who still had a very loyal and engaged following, rapidly lost a lot of respect from her fans after posting a racist and homophobic tweet. It even got her account suspended by Twitter.
There will be times, however when certain people will purposely try to slander your name in order to hinder the growth of your Business. This is exactly what happened to Jonathan Hay, of Jonathan Hay Publicity.
In a recent interview, Jonathan explained the humiliation he felt after his biological family researched his name online to find page after page of slander, undoing years of work towards building up his credibility in the industry.
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“There are a couple of people who have been targeting us for the past few years. They're both connected, and they've both been obsessed with trying to tear apart our lives. It's hard to find a word that describes what they've done. 'Harassment' would be an understatement. 'Cyberbullying' doesn't scratch the surface. Stalking, threatening, tormenting, bullying they've done all of that.
Our companies have spent a substantial amount of money and countless hours undoing what these two people have done. The things they've done to our families and friends far outweigh what they've done to us online, but the online attacks are what hurt our businesses the most. It would be difficult to calculate how much money we've lost as a result of their malicious actions,” states Hay.
Jonathan has been operating in the music industry specializing in publicity for over twenty years, but as a growing publicity company, he and his team were just beginning to gain notoriety. Needless to say, it was a devastating realization for them when they noticed an abundance of crude and slanderous articles shaming their name.
So how can you keep an eye on your online reputation and avoid what happened to Jonathan?
Identify the Issue Early On
One of the ways that Jonathan’s credibility was damaged, was through the strategic placement of negative postings on websites with high domain authorities and strong SEO. As a result, their content had a much higher chance of appearing at the top of search engines and generated an increase in blog traffic to those slanderous articles. They used this method to their advantage by forging calculated SEO attacks to bump down and override all of Jonathan’s high-profile publicity work that had been online for over a decade.
In addition to this they created a plethora of reviews, complaints, stories, anonymous forum postings, and articles on their own sites that appeared to be written from journalists and high-value individuals in an effort to target Jonathan and his team.
Luckily for you, this can be avoided when you follow some of the following tips:
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Change Your Passwords Often and Use a Complex Password Generator
Many social media sites that have access to a lot of your personal information such as Facebook, LinkedIn and even Snapchat are not entirely safe. It wasn’t long ago that LinkedIn was hacked and leaked millions of passwords and a lot of information. Change your password frequently to limit the possibility of having someone access your private accounts, and use a password generator to make those accounts even more difficult to hack.
Limit the Information You Put Online
The truth is that living in a digital society, it is quite common for private information to get leaked. The last thing you want as a professional is for the general public to find out you were a frequenter of a site like Ashley Madison, which also suffered a major database leak.
Invest in an Reputation Management Firm
There are many online reputation management firms that exist who make it their main priority to make sure your brand name stays clean and respected. If you truly believe that your brand’s name and reputation are at risk, it could be worth your while to invest in some preventative measures. Is it not better to invest $200 now instead of $5,000 later?
There are many online reputation management firms that exist who make it their priority to make sure your brand name stays clean and respected even when anonymous people attempt to harm you or your business. However, Hersh Davis-Nitzberg explains, “it can be nearly impossible to track down who spread the false or misleading information.”
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Jonathan Hay has since brought down over a hundred various websites the attackers used to slander his company, but some still remain and they're still working on addressing those. Jonathan states that,
“At one point it was so extremely brutal that if anyone searched our businesses online or any of our personal names, the first two pages of Google results were filled with numerous false complaints posted against us. They vandalized our company, defamed our character, and attacked our credibility in every search engine, all across the internet.”
It’s important to protect your online reputation and take the proper precautions when you choose what information to put on the internet. In Jonathan’s case, the situation was more troubling because a lot of the content that was published was completely made up. By keeping an eye on how your brand is presented online early on, it is possible to avoid such mishaps.