Building and managing your online reputation does not happen overnight — it is a strategic process that takes time and effort. In this article, we want to discuss the steps you can take to build and maintain your reputation.
"It takes a long time to build trust but only seconds to destroy it." A famous quote that perfectly encapsulates the importance of protecting one’s reputation and trustworthiness online and in real life. As an independent artist, it is your responsibility to take into consideration how other people perceive you.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, reputation is “the opinion that people in general have about someone or something.” In our digitized society, your online reputation can make or break your career. For this reason, you should remain conscious about how others perceive you and respond to criticism in a way that does not exacerbate any underlying issues. There are several things you have to consider when starting to look into your reputation, which we will discuss in this article.
Define your brand and reputation
Before you begin working on your reputation management strategy, it is crucial to define your brand. Creating a consistent brand image across multiple platforms provides a cohesive narrative to your audience and helps fans identify you easily. Understanding the direction and central message of your brand can shape your reputation significantly as it represents the core of all your other strategies.
Next, you should define what your reputation should “look like” in a way that goes beyond “good.” Ask yourself what exactly you want to be known for (other than your music) and how you would like to be perceived concerning your character traits and values. Do you want to be perceived as trustworthy, empathetic, independent, courageous, or something else?
Choosing which aspects you identify with will impact the way you communicate and approach your strategy. Make sure your decisions reflect your personality and values authentically instead of creating a fake version of yourself.
Assess Your Current Reputation
Your current reputation sets the stage for any further steps you'll take. What do people say about you on the internet and in real life? What does Google say about you when you type in your name? What do your social media profiles currently look like, and do they reflect how you want to be perceived?
Reputation management software and tools like BuzzSumo or Google Alerts can help you assess your current reputation and find out where your name has been mentioned. Keep using them in the future to monitor the web for good, neutral, and bad news about yourself.
Choose your tone of voice
Your tone of voice and communication style should reflect your brand identity authentically. Keep your tone consistent across all platforms to create a recognizable name for yourself. Avoid using one that feels forced and unnatural, as this will make it easy for you to fall out of character, which can impact your reputation negatively and make people question your authenticity and integrity.
Secure and Optimize Your Socials
Since you will spend a lot of time communicating via social media and building your online presence, make sure that all your accounts are secured and protected with a strong password so that nobody can access them. There are many reasons why others might try to hack accounts, including jealousy or scamming. The last thing you want is for someone to get into your account and spread misinformation, post offensive content to damage your reputation, or try to scam your fans.
Think Before You Post
This point is the most important one, as it can easily destroy all the effort you’ve put into your strategy. You should always think twice before posting anything online and ask yourself whether your content might potentially hurt or offend anyone. This also includes paying attention to the accuracy of the information you share. Misinformation is at its height, which is why you should be careful when (re)posting content that might be misleading or false.
Avoid virtue signaling
Lastly, you should avoid expressing opinions and sentiments just to make yourself look good on a moral level. A common example of virtue signaling is greenwashing done by companies that lie about being sustainable and caring about the environment when, in reality, they don’t. Thus, while raising awareness for different issues is important, it should come from a genuine place and should also be backed by tangible actions. This is not only important for your reputation, but even more so on a basic moral level.
Responding to criticism: examples
Regardless of how much time you put into managing your reputation, problems can and do arise. At the end of the day, nobody is immune to criticism, which makes it important to know how to handle conflict.
Case one: Someone criticizes your work
The following example is a very common one: You open your Instagram and come across a negative comment in which someone talks badly about your work. How do you respond to something along the lines of “Your music sucks”?
The first step is to decide if the criticism is constructive - if it is, it can benefit you a lot and give you insight into how others perceive your music. Thank the person for sharing their thoughts without taking it personally. When the criticism is not constructive but has no malicious intent, you can respond to it casually. Let the other person know that maybe, your music is simply not for them.
When the comment goes far beyond criticism and gives off bullying energy, you have every single right to delete it or hold the person accountable calmly and objectively. Avoid online drama since this will drain your energy without leading to any tangible solutions.
Case two: You accidentally shared misinformation
Social media is oversaturated with information, making it difficult to distinguish between true and false. There are many cases of high-profile individuals falling for fake news, while some spread it on purpose with malicious intentions.
How you deal with accidentally contributing to this issue depends on how impactful the misinformation you shared is. You should always delete the post that contains false information and acknowledge your mistake instead of getting defensive or denying it. Address the situation in a new post, apologize, and briefly thank your fans for raising awareness.
Case three: someone pretends to be you
Social media personalities frequently have to deal with other people trying to impersonate them. Some do it to scam people, others to damage their reputation out of jealousy, or to catfish people out of boredom/to ask for money.
If you find out about a fake profile that pretends to be you, you should report it and inform your fans to ensure they don’t fall prey to a scammer. Try to get verified on your social media accounts to prove the validity of your page. While this alone won’t magically stop scammers from trying to impersonate you, it will allow fans to distinguish between real and fake pages.
You should also trademark your name and look into insurance that protects you legally and financially. If one of your fans does get scammed, it is fairly easy to prove that it was not you but someone else pretending to be you. In this case, you should get a lawyer and cooperate with the fan.
Case four: bad reviews and negative feedback
This case is another fairly common example. Online platforms come with different opportunities for customers to rate their experiences, and review sites strongly influence people’s decision making. People tend to express their opinions through customer reviews when mad or dissatisfied. At the same time, many people don’t feel the need to express their thoughts and opinions when everything goes right.
For this reason, you should always double-check if someone’s online review about your show or merchandise is valid and constructive. At times, customers make mistakes but insist it is not their fault. In this case, you should challenge their review, offer proof, and try to find a solution to the unnecessary issue.
If a bad review is reasonable, you should respond by apologizing and offering something in exchange. If you showed up extremely late to your show, apologize and commit to doing better in the future, and offer some refunds if possible. People appreciate honesty and accountability, so don’t ignore their demands when they are valid.
Do not delete negative reviews and comments since this will only exacerbate any underlying issues and shed a bad light on you. People have the right to express their concerns, which is why you should take customer feedback seriously.
Conclusion: managing your reputation online and beyond
Reputation management is a consistent, ongoing effort that consists of many different steps. You can already do a lot by simply being compassionate, attentive, proactive, strategic, and authentic and by taking criticism seriously rather than getting defensive and righteous. Ultimately, reputation management should not happen based on virtue signaling and pretentiousness. Instead, it should be built on the basis of authenticity, genuineness, and awareness of your responsibility as a public figure.
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