If there’s anybody who knows what it’s like to have the whole world enmeshed in your business, it’s Lindsay Lohan. The type of scrutiny that Lohan has dealt with since childhood isn’t specifically a celebrity problem anymore. More and more often consumers are looking into a company’s background and reputation before deciding whether or not to do business with or buy from that company.
These investigations aren’t just limited to the company as a whole. It’s common for people to look into the backgrounds and reputations of individuals who work for and run those companies too. Knowing how deeply everybody is checking everybody else out, many businesses are starting to put together policies, regulations and even have employees sign contracts about what they can and can’t do online.
According to the Pew Research Center, 27% of employed internet users have employers who have specific rules about how employees are allowed to behave and present themselves individually online. These rules govern just what can be said about their employment but what they can say about themselves.
Other companies, even major corporations like the NFL, are turning to outside sources and companies like Brand.Com for help managing their web presences and reputations. For instance, when you look at Brand.com reviews you’ll see a client list that ranges from low-profile individuals to A-list representatives of major entities (like the aforementioned NFL).
It isn’t just customers that research the companies with whom they’re thinking of working. It goes the other way too. More and more corporations and companies are checking out potential employees’ and clients’ reputations before deciding whether to take them on. According to HLN, 40% of potential employers are using social media to check out potential new-hires to see if, personality-wise, they would be a good fit for a company. According to a survey done by Reppler, 70% of the companies who check out a candidate’s social media presence have decided against hiring that person based upon what they found on those profiles.
So what does that mean for corporations and individuals who are worried what might happen if someone plugs their name into Google? Remember: reputation checks aren’t just used for professional reasons. That same PEW research survey showed that 16% of internet users have checked out potential romantic partners online in the beginning of their relationships. 34% go back and check up on the people they’ve been out with!
Experts across the field remind both individuals and corporations that it is easier to build a good reputation from the ground up than it is to repair a reputation that has been tarnished. The most often given piece of advice is to “always put your best face forward.” The idea seems to be that trolls and ne’er do wells are lazy and aren’t likely to seek out reasons to not like you but are quick to jump on a weak moment and exploit it whenever those weak moments are presented to them.
If you don’t like the idea of having to live as if someone is always watching you isn’t appealing, that’s too bad. Even if you completely shun the World Wide Web, information and stories about you can turn up on it. Moreover, from a corporate standpoint, a lack of online presence is worse than a bad one!