We love our social media right?

We also know that no matter how rigid our privacy settings, once published a post remains forever in cyberspace. Before hitting the publish button we now ask ourselves – could posting that photo of my Tequila fueled friend dancing naked on a late night cocktail bar potentially damage her reputation? Or mine for being so thoughtless? Would my offhand response to that political hot potato negatively reframe me in the eyes of others? Would that angry, revengeful diatribe about the cad/cow I’ve just broken up with call into question my integrity/sobriety/sanity? And how would I feel if my boss, potential employer, Nana or the media saw my post? One, two, five years from now?

‘What goes on the road stays on the road’…and YouTube and Vimeo and Reddit and…

Yes, critical indeed that we carefully manage and protect our online personal brand. But what if someone deliberately set out to damage our brand image?

Recently met an extremely influential high flier who had Google searched herself and found, immediately below the link to her LinkedIn profile, a savagely titled link leading to an unnecessarily vitriolic essay written about her by an individual (read ‘troll’) hell bent on damaging her reputation. She needed a solution STAT!

Here’s what we recommended:

1) Call the offending site’s administrator and ask if they would kindly remove the article (just as professional ‘digital dirt’ cleaning companies would do). At the very least, remove the offending title.

2) Simultaneously (particularly if the administrator is unwilling to act), create a YouTube account, record and upload quality subject matter expertise video presentations and share links widely. As YouTube is the second largest search engine (though not strictly a search engine) to Google, the more viewings the higher the links should rise above that of the offending article.

3) Generate additional ‘positive press’ to push the offending link even further down Google home page by:

- Developing a dedicated personal Webpage using Workfolio or similar, supported by a dedicated URL then share the link on LinkedIn, Google+ and other relevant social media sites

- Creating additional social media profiles including Twitter, Facebook Page, Pinterest and Instagram and consistently posting/sharing quality content

- Establishing a blog on interests and/or subject matter expertise and posting consistently using SEO (search engine optimization) plugins to spread content across all relevant social media forums

- Utilising social media management tools such as HootSuite to schedule regular quality posts for delivery at premium, site specific, viewing times on all platforms, including LinkedIn

- Ensuring all shared articles and images are titled, well structured for SEO, hashtags well placed and headlines sharp and concise for easy searching

4) If links to other social profiles are also in the offending article (as in this case), change the URL’s of those accounts so that the links become void

5) When all else fails, yes there are many companies who specialise in cleaning up such dirt, though despite a fee being involved, success may not be guaranteed.

Given such situations will increase in prevalence over time, keen to hear your thoughts. Any hints to share?