Ever wish you could scrub embarrassing college pics from Facebook? Or the string of negative reviews about your small business that an embittered customer posted? Do you worry that prospective employers will see the youthful mug shot that you can’t get off the first page of your Google results?
As we increasingly live out our lives online, we’re finding that not only are there major downsides to all of that social media over-sharing—but we may have little control over the way we appear on the internet. A person who wants to do damage to your reputation will find few obstacles online, easily tarnishing your good name.
Enter online reputation managers.
Part PR gurus, part tech experts, they specialize in providing online makeovers—often by burying negative search results and promoting content that accentuates a client’s desired image.
To find out more about these digital disaster fixer-uppers, we spoke to Lana Lennox, the founder of one of the world’s largest online reputation management companies—Haload Ventures.
So what exactly does a reputation management specialist do?
Lana Lennox: Our customers range from moms and dads to Fortune 500 companies. And we try to give them maximum control possible over what people view about them online—whether it’s information that they want others to see about professional history or info that they don’t want seen, like a medical past.
Why might someone need help managing a digital reputation?
The rise of the internet has given birth to a lot of good things … and a lot of things that are not so good. Now your good name can end up in the hands of people you can’t identify—and who are in places you may not be able to point to on a map.
If someone says something negative about you or something true but old and obsolete—perhaps it’s that you were fired from your last job—these things can really damage your future. At the same time, your digital reputation also creates significant opportunities. If you aren’t taking advantage of what your reputation could be or hanging your digital shingle the way it deserves to be hung, people aren’t seeing your best foot forward.
Related: 8 Mistakes Not to Make on LinkedIn
Why can’t someone handle his or her own online reputation?
The best analogy that I can think of is anti-virus software for your computer. There are probably only 25 guys on the planet who can do good anti-virus protection on their own because it requires deep technical expertise. We have dozens of engineers who work on each of our products, which are designed expressly to fix or enhance your digital reputation and profile.
That said, there are certain things that you should do on your own, like have a thoughtful, well-curated LinkedIn profile. And you should have a Twitter handle that is your name, not something like “ILovePizza,” unless your job is in pizza.
What’s the most common problem that you encounter?