For a powerful online presence, what you don't do is as important as what you should be doing.
Packing a powerful presence online is about more than what you should do--sometimes it’s also about what you need to stop doing.
Here are five major missteps that are worth double-checking:
1. The overshare
Your Facebook account doesn’t pull double duty as a confessional. Twitter? It’s not a 140-character version of Dr. Phil. Leave the highly personal subjects for when you’re actually in person--with your friends and family. There are far too many instances where a story or anecdote, seemingly harmless, sucker-punches your small business, employment status, or romantic life. Don’t become a cautionary tale.
2. The start-and-stop
Congratulations, you’ve started your first blog! It’s fun, right? Fast-forward a few weeks and the blog that seemed like enjoyable evidence of your Web savvy is the digital equivalent of a New Year’s diet resolution: You’re so over it. It’s hard to feed the content beast--and even tougher to do it well. If you’re not committed, take your blog down. Or, investigate a faster, lower-effort option (Tumblr, anyone?) and stick with it.
3. No company website
Did you know that about 75 percent of businesses in the U.S. do not have a website? And it’s not a phenomenon unique to America: 60 percent of U.K. small businesses don’t either. What gives? A Harris Interactive survey says that 78 percent of adults in the U.S. think it’s very important to look up information about companies before deciding to do business with them. So what does it say to potential customers when you’re MIA?
4. A lackluster website
Are you one of the savvy-few small businesses that have embraced a Web presence? Congratulations. But is your site all that it could be? It’s not enough to claim your online real estate--like real life, you have to develop it to maximize its value. You don’t necessarily need to hire an expensive Web designer, but you should make sure your site is aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate, and up to date.
5. The duck-and-cover
Sometimes, people say things you just don’t want to hear. When it’s in person, you have the option to just walk away. On the Internet, when it’s about your business, you simply don’t have the luxury to cover your eyes and shut your ears. Whether it’s a post on your Facebook page, an angry "DM" on Twitter, or an irate review, pay attention. Knowledge is power, and knowing what your customers have to say about you gives you the energy and opportunity to make a difference for your business.
MICHAEL FERTIK founded Reputation.com with the belief that businesses and individuals have the right to control and protect their online reputation and privacy. He is credited with pioneering the field of online reputation management. @michaelfertik