While some sellers have started to use Facebook and Twitter in their personal lives, few use it in any meaningful way professionally. I’ll cut to the chase: to stay competitive, you need to become socially savvy because of Google. Here’s why.
Your personal brand is getting damaged – before you’ve had a chance to build it.
When you call a prospect, it’s likely before you even get off the phone, they’re Googling you. In the age of instant information, they’re looking to see if you’re really who you say you are. The question is – what will they find when they do? Will they find information that supports the claims you’ve made about you and your organization? Will they find content that connects you to your organization in obvious ways?
Do your search results match with the professional image you’re looking to convey?
I’m willing to bet for most people, the answer is no. And when a prospect sees something wildly inappropriate about you online, two things happen: they question your maturity as a professional, and your ability to gain earn credibility with them just got a lot harder.
Here’s a few tips to polish your professional personal brand for search:
- Have work-appropriate profiles. It’s not debatable. Customers are going to search for you. Make an active choice and ensure what they find is how you want to be seen. Curse and make inappropriate comments at your own discretion. That’s not to say you can’t. Just be mindful of the impression that makes.
- Say cheese. Make sure all your social profiles have a proper, business-appropriate portrait. Read: no beer-bong hats. Especially in situations with net-new customers, a smiling face goes a long way.
- Include a proper bio. Specific to Twitter, if you have an account, make sure it includes your full name and a reference to your organization. You don’t need to include your title. Just make it obvious for customers when your profile shows up in a search result.
- Lock your Facebook profile down. It still amazes me how many people have their Facebook profiles open for the world to see. Should your customers really see those pictures from your fraternity/sorority reunion? Probably not. Protect your Facebook profile! Change your privacy settings so that only friends can see your content. And think twice about becoming friends with your customers on Facebook. That might be a line you might regret crossing one day.
- Create Google Alerts. One of the fastest and useful ways of proactively monitoring your personal brand is setting up a google alert for any reference of your name. Once created, Google will send you an email whenever you’re mentioned.
When it comes to search results, consider Public vs. private profiles
The natural question people ask me is how should they balance their personal/professional social profiles. After all, for many people (including me) social media is a cathartic outlet. I’ve previously addressed the responsibility employees carry – even with personal profiles – in my post on guidelines.
A simpler answer that seems to satisfy is this: given the public nature of Twitter, LinkedIn and other social profiles, keep those as work-appropriate as possible. Use social networks like Facebook and Google+ – where you can control much more effectively (and reliably) who sees what content- as your chosen places to kvetch.
If you regularly search for yourself, great.You already know what customers are seeing. If you haven’t Googled your name lately, you just might be shocked at what you find. And guess what? Your customers will be too.
How do you make sure customers see only what you want them to see, but still have fun and keep the social in social media? Sound off below in the comments and share!