Map Sports

Your Online Reputation is Everything

Since the advent of web 2.0 and smart phone technologies it has become easier than ever for clubs and high profile athletes to engage with their fans.

While interacting with fans, or even friends and family, using online profiles can help boost the reputation of an athlete, even small mistakes can have a large effect on their life after sport.

Let’s explore some of the dangers that can come with having an online profile, and the importance of reputation management.

More than ever before, our lives, including those of elite athletes, are being lived online. Through a range of different online platforms fans can learn just about everything about their favourite athlete, from a behind-the-scenes glimpse into matches and training, what they had for lunch, or their thoughts on the latest hot topic – fans now have 24/7 access to their favourite star.

The willingness to share and be open with fans can also create opportunities for an athlete off the field. Sponsors are drawn by the ability to access large numbers of fans that an athlete’s online presence can provide, while a strong sport profile can be leveraged for business brand development after retirement.

While there are undoubtedly many positives to online profiles, it is important for athletes to understand the importance of reputation management and how even a small mistake online can have large and lasting consequences.

 

What is Reputation Management?

Put simply, reputation management involves monitoring the presence of an individual or business online, and addressing any negative content. Effective reputation management will leave the individual or business with a positive online identity.

Reputation management can involve many different aspects, both proactive and reactive. Proactive reputation management can involve addressing complaints and criticism in a timely and effective manner, and promote positive stories about the business or individual.

Businesses and individuals can also reactively manage negative press online. This can involve asking for the removal of incorrect information, or attempting to have positive stories outrank negative ones in search engines and digital media.

 

Why Reputation Management is Important

While it can be possible to reactively undo some of the damage caused by negative content posted online, it can a very expensive, time consuming, and long-term, exercise. It can also be impossible to delete all traces of some content, especially if it has been shared extensively using social media or being posted to many news sites.

Whether it is an embarrassing photo, an ill-thought-out comment posted to the world, or a negative customer review, a simple search online will uncover all the dirty laundry a person or business may have online. In addition to this, slanderous and untrue comments made by anonymous users can also find their way to the top of search engine rankings and be seen by the world.

For an elite athlete, reputation management is especially important to maximise earning potential, while playing and for life after sport. Sponsors are drawn to players with a positive reputation, and will not support athletes who have a negative following. Similarly, on retirement, athletes wishing to leverage their sport profile to develop a business brand will need a positive and trustworthy online presence, to attract customers, help with marketing, and find business partnerships.

 

How to Manage Your Reputation Online

For major corporations around the world reputation management is a full time part of their business, with staff dedicated to responding to customer feedback, particularly on social media, and promoting positive stories. There are also dedicated businesses whose job is to “clean up” the online reputation of a business or individual.

For elite athletes it is unrealistic to hire a dedicated team of reputation management professionals working solely on building a positive online presence. It can also be expensive to hire consultants to reactively suppress negative online stories. Similarly, for those retired athletes who have started a business, managing both their individual and businesses online presence can be overwhelming.

While tech-savvy athletes, or those with marketing or communications training, may feel comfortable managing their digital brand, for the hundreds of others, a little help is needed. Below are some tips for managing online profiles and reducing the risks of attracting reputation damaging content.

 

Tips for Keeping an Online Profile and Managing Your Online Reputation

  • Set up a Google Alert for your name and your business names. This way you know if and when any content is published about you.
  • Check your Facebook privacy settings. Adjust the privacy settings to restrict public access to your personal profile. You might consider changing your personal profile name to one without your surname so that you can still connect on a personal level with family and ‘real’ friends.
  • Think twice before Tweeting. Twitter is easily shared and can go “viral” in a matter of seconds.
  • Don’t feed the trolls. Unfortunately some people deliberately bait celebrities to get a reaction.
  • Get your family and friends onboard. While you may be careful with what you post to your online profiles, others may also post things about you such as pictures or video. Explain to them the importance of you online reputation and discuss how and when they can tag photos of you. (You can adjust your own settings to be asked to give permission for any tagging of you.)
  • In addition to these basic tips, for those not comfortable with digital branding it may be worth the additional investment of hiring an agency to set up and proactively manage it.

 

If you would like help with your digital brand management or reputation management, both during your playing career and for life after sport, contact Andrew at Map Sports andrewp@mapsports.com.au.