I recently attended a meeting with a high profile company in South Africa. The purpose of the meeting was to establish how we could make the CEO of the company’s internet presence more structured and reflecting more of the information that he wanted circulated.
We discussed various options like search engine optimisation, press releases, social media marketing, content marketing and personal internet branding. These are all sound business practices for any company wishing to enhance their online presence. All these options work if you enable them with a structured implementation plan and a cohesive editorial calendar. This was looking very promising but then the meeting floundered to a halt.
So what was the problem? The problem was that the CEO is a very private person and has no desire to be ‘paraded’ across the various internet platforms. This is completely understandable and a valid decision from a personal perspective.
However, as a director of a public company, his name is already in the public spotlight. If you do a search on his name, thousands of links come up. Most of the links point to news sites where they have reported on the company and sometimes the news is not good.
The nature of people being what it is, the ‘bad news’ gets more attention. People love to share, gossip, speculate and have a field day with trolling and leaving negative comments that impact the ‘sharability’ of the news. This means that the ‘bad news’ rises to the top of the search engine rankings because of the interaction and sharing across multiple social media platforms and news listing sites. People see the ‘bad news’ and automatically assume it is true because it is on the internet.
If they scrolled down to page 9 of that search phrase, they would find an article that categorically refutes the ‘bad news’ and declares it untrue by a trusted source. How many people go to page nine on a search?
If there is no concerted effort by the company or director to counter the ‘bad news’ with the correct facts and information using the same methodologies, the bad news always remains at the top of the search engines. The end result is that most people will think that the company and the people are ‘bad’ even though it is not true. Their online reputations are at the mercy of the oceans of readers out there.
Now you may feel that this is not fair. And you are right. It is not. However, the internet is here to stay whether you like it or not. Directors could either ignore it and allow the nay-sayers and bullies to define their online reputation. Or they could choose to climb into the boat and start charting their own course across the perilous social media seas.
Directors and other executives have to get actively involved in managing their online reputations. There is no doubt that they will still be exposed to the ‘ugly’ side of the internet, but at least they will have the opportunity to defend themselves with facts and accurate information.
The one major advantage company executives have is their huge pool of human resources. They have team members that are able to product content, share press releases, comment and post on various sites etc. that will help the ‘good news’ escalate up the search engine rankings. This is the equivalent of a motorised engine that gives them more control of the type on information that is out there on the internet. They do not have to row the boat on their own.
One way to dip their toes into the vast ocean would be to register a domain in their personal name. Once that is done, simply get their IT departments to put up a WordPress site and then post regular news updates from their Public Relations departments onto that site.
Using the personal branding strategy that I developed, I now dominate the first three pages of Google search with my name ‘Diana Heuser’. You can see that in action here:
By creating a focused personal online branding strategy directors take full control of their personal online reputation and they can dominate the local search engine rankings on their own name.