The modern age is a world of social media, which means that today’s CEOs are extremely visible, highly-scrutinized and under constant pressure. As the CEO of a company, you likely know that people can and will scrutinize everything about you online, from your facial expression in your company photograph to your Facebook posts from eight years ago.
In 2008, just 24% of the United States population had social media profiles. As of 2017, 81% of Americans use social media.
These number might sound big, but the reality is even more staggering. Ask yourself, when was the last time you met a shareholder, a fellow professional, or a friend who didn’t have a Facebook page?
Actively managing your reputation and social media presence online doesn’t just impact how people see you, either. It can make you better at your role of CEO. According to a survey conducted by Development Dimensions International CEOs with an active online presence are 46% more influential, 52% stronger at compelling communication and 89% better at empowering others.
Many CEOs still fail to use their online reputation to their advantage. In fact, only 20% of CEOs are actively social online according to a 2017 analysis by CNBC. Social media isn’t all that matters for a CEO, either. Every result that appears on the first couple pages of Google is readily accessible to anyone who wants to use your reputation against you and your business.
Make no mistake, everything about you online impacts your career and your business. The tips below will help you take charge of your online reputation as a CEO for the betterment of your business:
1. Learn About Your Reputation
Devote an hour to exploring what’s being said about you and your company online. Scour the first several pages of Google and learn about yourself and your company through the eyes of a shareholder or a consumer. Build a bookmark folder of everything you can find about yourself online and review it.
Even if there’s nothing negative, how much positive content about you as a CEO exists online? This initial snapshot will give you an idea of what needs to be done.
2. Give Up the Low-Profile Mindset
It is no longer possible for a CEO to maintain a low personal profile and complete personal privacy. The sooner you give up this mindset and embrace the spotlight, the better. If you’re not creating your reputation online, other people will do it for you, and they could hurt your business.
In short, when you step forward and accept the visible role of the modern CEO, you control your reputation. You also increase your worth, boost your business and help avoid potential legal problems. To maintain a positive image in the spotlight, remember to embrace transparency, which has become today’s standard for businesses and CEOs alike.
3. Match Your Personal Brand to Your Company Brand
A CEO is not an employee, a CEO is a brand. Most high-level businesspeople today are learning to see their professional images as a brand. Your brand isn’t just about you though, it must run parallel with your company branding if it’s to be of benefit to you.
How you appear as a professional should complement your business, simultaneously improving both your reputation and that of your organization. Consider your company’s brand and your brand separately and then find ways to blend them into a parallel brand for the most effective reputation management.
4. Monitor Your Reputation
Assessing your reputation once isn’t enough. A CEO needs to know what’s being said the moment it hits the internet. Failure to notice negative content online in a timely manner could destroy you and your company with the fast-acting modern media.
Google Alerts, for example, can notify you anytime something new is published about you or your company. Many reputation-conscious CEOs delegate this task to a reputation expert to be certain nothing is overlooked.
5. Own Your Name
If your name is your brand, shouldn’t you own all aspects of it? Purchase the domains for your name in all forms that you use it. For example, if you go by Jane Smith and Jane Smith-Doe, you should own both www.janesmith.com and www.janesmithdoe.com.
This isn’t just for domain names, either. Secure your name in all possible web platforms and social media outlets. With nearly TWO BILLION acive websites as of September 2017, you might not be able to own your name as a domain name.
In these cases, try adding your middle initial, using your first initial and your last name or adding a hyphen between your names. You can also contact the owner of your name’s domain and attempt to purchase it.
6. Hire a Crisis Manager
Whether you’re currently facing a crisis or preparing for the eventuality of one, you need to be prepared. Crisis management requires a crisis manager.
This means bringing on an expert to contain a crisis, to help you and your business recover from the crisis and to lessen the possibility of related incidents in the future. A strong online reputation also offers crisis protection, so hiring a specialist to build your online presence can help mitigate damage if or when a crisis occurs.
7. Push Dated and Negative Posts Down
If your Google search yielded several links to dated information and old imagines that no longer represent you and your business, push that content down. The same can be said for negative posts, of course.
If your Google search yielded several links to dated information and old images that no longer represent you and your business, you need to push that content down. The same can be said for negative posts, of course.
The best way to update search results is by getting new, positive content online that represents your brand and that of your business in a favorable light. This is not something that happens overnight though. Adjusting what appears on the front page of Google is an ongoing process that requires quality, original content to surface on a regular basis through a variety of sources.
8. Create a Social Media Presence
Social CEOs who participate in social media build better connections with consumers, employees and investors. They also create more transparency for the brand, rise faster as leaders, authentically engage stakeholders and inspire their teams to be more proactive when faced with challenges, according to the 2014 Global Social CEO Survey by BRANDfog .
The aforementioned survey also found that customers are more likely to purchase from a company whose values and leadership are represented through executive social media participation. If you don’t have an active social media presence, start by making everything about your personal life private and creating a professional account on all platforms. Then create a posting schedule, connect with your followers through positive, authentic content and network through your field.
9. Consider How Customers View Your Reputation
Before engaging with a business, many customers consider and explore the online reputation of the CEO. Before you post or say anything, consider how customers view your reputation and how your target audience will react.
Take control of your reputation by pushing down negative information, consider everything about yourself, your business or your brand from your target audience’s eyes.
10. Leverage LinkedIn and Other Professional Profiles
LinkedIn and other professional profiles can be valuable tools for a social CEO. Likewise, though, if you neglect these profiles they can mar your reputation. Customers, colleagues, employees, investors, future employers and future business partners are all likely to look at your profiles on websites like LinkedIn, and this does impact your reputation.
A well-built LinkedIn profile, or any professional profile, should display a current headshot, your current position as CEO, your two most recent positions before CEO, your education history, your brand history, a profile summary, additional professional skills, as many recommendations as possible and organizations you support or volunteer work you participate in.
11. Connect with Consumer Sentiment
Social CEOs commonly connect with employees, stakeholders and colleagues online while neglecting to connect with consumer sentiment. Consumer sentiment is an economical statistic used as a barometer for economic policy, public policy and stock markets.
Connect with the current consumer sentiment, understand it and take it into consideration for your posts, your professional image, your company culture and your branding.
Connecting directly with your consumers is also critical – know who’s keeping your business alive, what your average customer likes, what customers dislike and what’s expected of modern workplaces.
12. Connect with Employees
Encourage growth from within your company by connecting with employees. A CEO’s reputation and brand starts with the people they work with. Consider how you want employees and colleagues to view you and personify that online.
By focusing on your connection with employees and making yourself accessible, available and humble, you can quickly build a powerful team. Employees who are dedicated to their CEO perform better, bring new ideas to the workplace and offer a line of defense if or when crisis strikes your company.
13. Prepare for the Worst
For most businesses, it is not a matter of if you’ll find yourself in court, but when. The same can be said for today’s CEOs. Even if you feel certain you’ll never be involved with a lawsuit, make everything to do with your reputation and your businesses practices court-proof.
Hire legal assistance and design a plan to prepare your business for legal involvement. Not only can legal representation protect you and your business, but a legal professional can work to eliminate libelous claims online through methods such as cease and desist orders.
14. Revamp Company Culture
Your company culture will receive almost as much attention as you do. As the CEO, you can boost your reputation and improve your company’s standing in the eyes of the public by revamping company culture.
Research modern company culture in your industry, establish a positive presence on diversity in the workplace and involve your employees in creating a new office environment.
When you revamp company culture, you have the perfect opportunity to hire a reputation manager who can create positive content about the change. This draws attention to new, exciting changes made by your company while pushing down negative or dated content.
15. Consider Your Investors
An investor will almost always research your online reputation before putting money anywhere. As the CEO of the company, it is your responsibility to consider your investors when designing every element of your branding.
For example, a single negative post from a positive company’s CEO can imply, in the eyes of an investor, structural instability, decreasing the perceived value of your business. A successfully-social CEO, on the other hand, attracts new investors while wowing existing shareholders.
You can also reach out to investors through sites like LinkedIn to establish new connections yourself, using your online reputation to your advantage.
16. Always Communicate Professionally
Consider your image as a professional. Does a successful, reputable CEO engage in online bickering? Does a respected CEO make flippant posts on social media or respond defensively to negative comments?
Regardless of the situation or platform, always communicate professionally. Employees, consumers, investors and colleagues can see any online communication you post and will judge you accordingly.
Delegating your posts and communications to an expert removes room for error on your part, ensuring that your emotions never get the best of a situation.
17. Establish Yourself as a Pioneer
Great CEOs are pioneers of their field. They break new ground, bravely venture into new territory and embrace modern changes before or in step with their competitors. If you’re a pioneer in your field, you’ll receive media attention for the positive waves you’ll make, and this can quickly push down negative content.
The more posts online that show you in a positive light, portraying you as a pioneer and a leader, the bigger wall you build around yourself to defend against negative content. As a pioneer in your field, you’ll also appear on the radar for a variety of potential new customers, investors, employees, partners and employers.
18. Generate Positive Media Attention and Exposure
Establishing yourself as a pioneer in your field is just one of many ways to generate positive media exposure. Research new ways to get your name and your business in the news. For example, CEOs attending volunteer events and fundraisers often make headlines, stirring up public interest and discussion.
Hiring a PR specialist to locate opportunities for media attention and exposure that portrays your brand as you’ve designed it is the easiest way to do this. Delivering seminars, making donations, giving speeches about world events and offering useful resources to the public are just a few examples of other ways you can get more media attention.
19. Follow a Long-Term Reputation Strategy
As a CEO, you’ll need a multifaceted approach to fixing and improving your online reputation. You won’t be able to fix it all at once and you won’t be able to cut corners, but a long-term, multifaceted approach will turn your online reputation into an asset instead of a liability.
Make room in your company’s budget for reputation management and work with an expert to develop a plan. Understand the realistic timeframe for pushing down bad results and fixing your company’s reputation, and then commit to your strategy. Though you won’t see results overnight, a comprehensive, ongoing reputation strategy that receives regular modification will change how people view you online.
20. Put Your Revamped Reputation to Use
A positive reputation means more than an impressive CV and a thriving company. Social CEOs can put their reputations to use, attracting new customers and fostering growth in their businesses.
Once you’ve hired experts, eliminated negative search results and established yourself as a pioneer, the front page of Google becomes one of your biggest selling points.
Furthermore, your website and professional profiles represent your new résumé. LinkedIn is designed to display résumé information in a modern, online-accessible format. You might not want to delete your CV and letters of recommendation, but you can present them on the solid foundation of an excellent reputation to great success.
As the CEO of your company, you have the potential to become your brand’s greatest ambassador. Tips like those above, can completely change how the public views you and your company.
Today, 87% of people believe a CEO’s reputation to be integral to the company’s reputation. Furthermore, 83% of people surveyed in the US and 73% of people surveyed in the UK feel that social CEOs can build stronger connections with investors, employees and customers. Those numbers will continue rising as the world moves closer to total connection.
There’s no better time than now to fix your reputation. The greater your visibility and presence is as a CEO, the higher you and your company will be valued. You can improve your company’s success and income, and thus your own success and income, by renovating your online reputation.
It’s time to design and market your professional image as your brand. It’s also time to change what your investors, employees, customers and colleagues see when they search for you online.
Status Labs is the premier digital reputation management firm, with offices in Austin, New York, Los Angeles, London and São Paulo. For more information visit StatusLabs.com or sign up for a Free Consultation.