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Managing an online strategy and reputation can become even more of a challenge for financial industry professionals and leaders, as there are barriers preventing advisors from interacting on the Web in ways professionals in other industries can, with great ease and virtually no restrictions. In fact, this is a common excuse advisors often pull out to avoid getting engaged in social media and digital marketing, but conversations are already happening and judgments are being formed regardless of whether you are online to manage them, so why not err on the side of caution? After all, even the smallest stain on your record is fair game, from a poor comment on a review site to a negative newspaper editorial, and it can appear anywhere on the Web, threatening your business's online reputation. So what, if anything, can you do about it?

Here are some steps to take:

Set an Alert for Yourself – In order to handle occurrences immediately, you need to know what is being said about you and your firm so you can take action as swiftly as possible to offset the negativity. In addition to regularly running a search on your name and your company's name through Google to see what shows up on the all-important first page, try setting up Google Alerts for yourself and your company (see Figure 25.1). These alerts will help keep you regularly apprised of any new information posted about you. Alerts will also give you a head-start in crafting your response to a particular posting. It's also worth checking out Mention .com, another great site for finding more in-depth social media posts and conversations that Google Alerts may miss. When it comes to your reputation, you don't want to leave anything to chance.

Set Up Google Alerts

FIGURE 2S.1 Set Up Google Alerts

Put a Powerful Social Media System in Place – If you want to keep criticism at bay, one of the best ways is by managing your reputation in a way that puts your best social media foot forward. In addition to maintaining a dynamic website, be sure to keep a comprehensive company profile alive on as many relevant social media platforms as you can, and create and stick to a content deployment schedule. These practices, along with your website and blog, will together weave a portrait of who you and your company are because they allow you to exhibit the positive persona you want your online reputation to embody. And the more active you are, the more likely you are to appear among the top listings on popular search engines. It's really quite simple: Having more social profiles and by-lined content appear on the first page of a Google search simply leaves less room for the odd nugget of negativity to overwhelm what's otherwise a stellar reputation.

Blog and Blog Again – Your website should feature an advisor blog that you rely on to share helpful information and keep your business top of mind, but you can also use that blog to generate positive stories and buzz about your firm. Not only is the blog on your website a great resource for developing content that only you control, but it also provides outstanding search engine optimization. Make certain you capitalize on these opportunities to craft original content that speaks to who you are, what you do, and why you do it, and that you're always putting out original content that is a genuine reflection of the trustworthy expert you are. Again, the more content you share on the Web, the stronger your intended image on search results will be.

If you're ever faced with a reputation crisis, redouble your social media efforts. Try writing two blogs posts a week instead of just one and see if you can contribute to your partners' sites or online industry trade journals as a guest. Remember to include lots of links back to your website and use those long-tail keywords to get your blog and website to appear at the top of the search results. As a rule, the more content you have online, the better chance you have at pushing negative reflections off the initial search results page.

Always Know What Profiles You Have Set Up – You should only create as many profiles as you have the time and resources to manage, but the more you have, the more likely you will get wind of criticism on social media. Sometimes there are pages on the Internet with your name on them, and you might not even be aware that they exist. Take for example, Google+. When you set up a Google-I- Local Business Page, it automatically creates a Google Places Profile for you. You need to make sure that these pages are up to date. A good way to do that is by, again, searching for yourself online. Go through the first few pages of results and make sure they are first and foremost pages you are aware of, and secondly, complete with accurate information.

Consider Using a Reputation Management Service – If you'd rather pay someone to keep track of your Internet appearances and online reputation, consider hiring a professional company do it for you. Companies like and will monitor the Web for posts about you, and many of them will develop original content for your website or blog by tailoring a strategy that meets both your business and budget needs.

Have a Pre-Approved Response Ready to Go – If there's a chance someone does say something unfavorable online, you may want to be ready to respond quickly, so that you can avoid any further issues. Have a general response pre-scripted and approved by your compliance team, so that if an issue arises, you don't have to wait days to respond. Most upset and irritated comments are better dealt with sooner rather than later.

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