Whenever you are involved in an ORM (Online Reputation Management) campaign, your goal is to displace negative results in the search engines with positive results. In a previous post we looked at creating microsites. In this post, we are going to look at leveraging social media profiles.
As with every search result in Google, the top results are generally made up of the most trusted and authoritative results, so it makes the most sense for us to talk about the most trusted authoritative social media sites at the moment: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google plus.
Facebook is by far one the most popular and visited sites in social media; however, for many people, it can also be the most problematic. The most common issue on Facebook is people or their friends posting unflattering or unflattering status updates or pictures. That status update or pic from that party weekend in Cancun where you …. let’s just not even mention it again … may have been funny at the time, but it’s not funny when you are applying for a job, trying to get the condo board to think you are a qualified, responsible tenant, or trying to prove that drunk driving incident really wasn’t you. Thanks to Facebook’s new timeline feature, it makes it incredibly easy for someone to skim through your profile and isolate those “wild college years.” My suggestion? Create a “close friends” group and edit all those items so only they can see them (see How to Create a Friend List). Alternatively, you could “go nuclear” and just block all the old info on your timeline. It’s much more drastic but also a lot more bulletproof.
If you are a company, you may not have those drunken college years to contend with, but you may not have a rich history, or even a profile. If you don’t have a profile, start one. I’d link to a resource but, to be honest, Facebook changes so often that the link would need to be updated every few months. Instead, just Google it [how to create a business profile on facebook].
Sadly, we all now have to treat our Facebook status updates like a Public Relations team. Don’t post anything outlandish or crazy that you don’t want to be associated with. An alternative course is to regularly post completely off the wall crazy information that is completely unbelievable. This gives you a bit of wiggle room and allows you to have plausible deniability. This really is only an option for personal accounts and not businesses.
The next site you need to focus on is Twitter. Again, if the person or company you are doing ORM for doesn’t have an account, you’ll need to get one going ASAP. The more trusted and authoritative your Twitter account is, the better it will rank in the SERPs. While Klout isn’t perfect, it’s a good place to start. If the Twitter account isn’t posting content now on a regular basis, you’ll need to start. To get the most out of social media with the least amount of time, I suggest using Hootsuite and or Bufferapp (see How to be Involved on Twitter in Less than an Hour a day). Post good content, share good links, respond when someone talks to you (using the @ symbol). If you want to drive your Klout score up, get followed by people who already have a high Klout score. Have conversations back and forth with them ( it’s the back and forth that really counts). This advice holds true for a business account as well as for a personal one.
Most people who have jobs have, at the very least, a LinkedIn account. If they haven’t changed jobs or at least tried to get new job in the past few years, their LinkedIn profile is probably outdated and could use some updating. Within the past few years, LinkedIn has added the ability to create company pages (see creating company profiles on LinkedIn). If you are doing ORM for a company, please ask all of your key employees to create profiles and to update their profiles to link to the company profile.
Google Plus is the latest serious player in the social media profile space. At the time this post was written Google had made some serious aggressive changes to “force” Google Plus results, giving them higher and greater exposure. Whether this is a long term change that will stick remains to be seen. At the very least the person you are doing ORM work for should claim and create a Google Plus profile. However, for maximum results, they will need to verify the profile and connect it to articles or posts they have written (see How To Create A Google Author Account). If you are doing ORM for a business or organization, see how to create a Google plus profile for your business. Again, these services are in flux so the actual steps may change.
You could simply set up these profiles, but to get the most out of them you need to keep them looking as “lived in” as possible. That means updating semi-regularly and connecting or being friends with other users and having a dialog or conversation with some of them. With the exception of Google+, all of these services have API’s so you can update them with tools on a scheduled basis such as Hootsuite or Bufferapp.
Once you have these accounts looking lived in, you can start pointing links to them. You want to use optimal anchor text (ie, the person’s name or name of the company in most cases). However, you do want there to be some variation. If 100% of the links pointing to a site have a 100% anchor text match, it look manipulated and and artificial, so mix it up a bit. You can do some interlinking but be careful: interlinking all of them, creating a nest of sites, link brothel, or artificial link pyramid designed just to manipulate link equity will stick out and will probably be discounted.
While I only spoke about four social sites in this article, there are hundreds of websites you can create profiles on for ORM. It doesn’t make sense to try and set up and populate all of them. If you want to establish them and prevent someone else from squatting on them, use a service like KnowEm. Once you have them secured, you can cherry pick the best or most appropriate ones to flesh out and work with.
So what are the takeaways from this post:
- When performing ORM, set up and register individual or business profiles
- The most important services currently are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus
- Use a service like KnowEm to secure secondary profiles
- Flesh out the most important or relevant profiles
- Come up with a plan for updating the profiles on a regular basis
- Develop and interlink the profiles without making it look overly manipulated
- Give the profiles a human feel and build trust signal by having back and forth conversations, interactions, and engagement with other profiles, especially profiles with established trust signals