Why Online Reputation Management Matters, Plus 4 Ways to Deal with Critics

An online reputation exists whether someone takes charge of it or just sits passively on the sideline. We’ve all Googled ourselves, old classmates, celebrities and especially people who are asking for votes. It’s not just Google that people use to learn about others. Social media platforms, especially Facebook, is a favorite source for learning about people’s likes, friends, and other interests.

Additionally, social media platforms are where people are getting their news. According to a Pew Research study, 67% of adults use Facebook. In the same survey, 44% of adults depend on Facebook to get at least some of their news, and one out five adults treat social media as a primary source for news.

These facts demonstrate why it is so important to consider social media as a significant part of a candidate’s strategy for reaching supporters and potential voters. The best way manage your online reputation is publishing positive content about accomplishments, community, and the people represented. Social platforms can be used for constructive conversations to gather support for initiatives and provide insight that could lead to improving a proposal. People crave an authentic connection. They want to believe those in power are hearing their concerns. Plus social media can provide an additional means of reaching interested voters. I recently attended a legislative coffee. There were approximately 50 people there. That’s great, but when considering the actual number of people in the district, it’s just a good start. Social media provides a cost-effective way to reach even more of the district's population. Additionally, the contact can happen at a convenient time for the supporter.

With more and more people turning to online forums it is imperative for candidates and elected officials to be part of those conversations. And not only during campaign season.

Social media is taking on the role of the modern town square. We protect free speech. But that doesn’t mean nasty words or off-topic rants are permitted. So how should a public official deal with the bullies?

1. The supporters respond. Here’s one of the best rewards for paying attention and cultivating followers on social platforms. When attacked, it’s typical of supporters to be the first to respond.

2. Engage appropriately. Look, no one is saying this is easy. Everyone gets fed up, and a curt, angry and perhaps rude response feels appropriate. It’s not. If necessary, take some time to cool down. Brief, direct answers are always best. Polite and professional very rarely creates headlines. It’s the best way to handle someone out of control.

3. Don’t respond. There are rare instances where a quick “thank you for sharing your opinion on an issue that means a lot to you” is all that needs to be said. It’s also always appropriate to correct wrong information.

4. Don’t delete or block. A public official on an official site or related to their position can’t block dissenting content. It’s a matter of free speech. Federal judges frown on censorship. As long as it’s on topic and not threatening, it should be part of the conversation.

Candidates and those holding elected office have a responsibility to the people who voted for them. They also have a responsibility to those voters who chose the other candidate. Social platforms provide an excellent forum to have an ongoing dialog. Nurturing the ongoing conversation also eliminates a disconnected feeling or worse yet, supporters feeling like they only hear from an official when the candidate needs money or votes.

Online reputations don’t exist in a vacuum. It also doesn’t need to be all-consuming to manage.  The only wrong answers are to believe it doesn’t matter or to ignore it.

For additional information or assistance with reputation management, contact Joy or Kristi at www.cyberclimb.com. CyberClimb is a full-service digital marketing team. Their political team has more than 40 years of combined experience working with candidates and their campaign.