There are two important aspects to consider in the game of online reputation defense. One consists of elements that people have little to no control over, such as outside reviews and comments, defamatory accusations, and past actions. Likewise, there are elements that can be brought under extensive personal control and supervision, such as social media comments, online content, corrections to third-party errata, and personal and organizational actions.
Being able to control the aspects within one’s capacity sounds like a daunting task, given how extensive it could be. The easiest of these, watching what one says or types in public, is a habit that takes practice to master. Owning up to one’s mistakes or gaffes is another; this is particularly important for businesses, which should have a dedicated network of social media sites and other communication lines to divert and address legitimate concerns that the company should be responsible for, such as product issues and employee or management misdemeanors.
Moreover, creating and crafting a positive image online—the ground by which all online promotions and defenses are based on—are primarily the responsibility of the person or business concerned. Content should put the company’s best foot forward in the Internet and should be made accessible through social media channels that the company already controls.
The furthest extent that one’s own personal control over content is asking bloggers and publishers to correct false or mistakenly attributed information. Asking for outright removal of the content, however, is unlikely to help and is reserved for more extreme circumstances.
There are limits to what one can personally police on the web. Being able to take effective control of these elements, however, is an important complement to any campaign for online reputation defense for oneself or one’s business or organization. Maintaining this control is important, and managing it responsibly is the key to successfully defending one’s good name on the Internet.
Defending one’s online reputation requires mastering what one is able to directly control while keeping a watchful but not overly glued eye over those outside it. Beyond the capacity for individual control, people and businesses can instead turn to online reputation management services to divert traffic away from the offending content. Those within reach, however, should be managed by a tactful and responsible hand.