// Internet Duct Tape

An Introduction to Reputation Management (by guest blogger Tim Nash)

This is a post by a guest blogger.

Tim Nash is a reputation management consultant, co-founder and primary consultant for Venture Skills a “New media” IT company which specialises in search engine optimisation, reputation management, and technical side of online marketing. When not working at Venture Skills, posting site reviews on forums he can be found teaching at a local university where he lecturers in Search Engine Optimisation and Information Retrieval.

My name is Tim and I’m a reputation management consultant. I’m helping engtech out by doing a guest post for his blog.

But what is reputation management?

Let us start with a formal quote:

Reputation management is the process of tracking an entity’s actions and other entities’ opinions about those actions; reporting on those actions and opinions; and reacting to that report creating a feedback loop. All entities involved are generally people, but that need not always be the case. Other examples of entities include animals, businesses, or even locations or materials. The tracking and reporting may range from word-of-mouth to statistical analysis of thousands data points. — Source: Wikipedia

This is a very dusty but surprisingly accurate description of reputation management, be it in commercial business analysis or on a personal level. There a three basic areas to reputation management:

  1. Finding out what people are saying about you
  2. Creating a persona or brand image
  3. If needed defending this image

But why is this important to us?

The world is not the same ten years ago. The internet means we can access millions of web pages on almost every subject. The rise of social networks means our brand or persona is all around us for anyone to see: your boss, your potential future boss and in many people’s worse nightmares your in-laws!

What you say online can be traced. In the USA their have been several high profile cases of dismissal for inappropriate conduct all because of what was said on sites like MySpace or Facebook. Many prospective employers Google search candidates before interviews, indeed in recent interviews for positions where I have been the employer I have gone one step further asking candidates for any forum or social media names they may use. Now we are the extreme — a techie company who was looking for some one familiar with the web who was a team player and could participate — but what if you were forced to hand over your forum handles?

Many of us participate in forums, blogs, Myspace, LinkedIn using various names and handles. The vast majority of online users do not use their real names. Why?

Up until a year or so ago I never used my name on forums, I was always uberwonky1 or something equally meaningless. Until I was asked by a prospective client who wanted me to do some SEO (search engine optimisation) work why I was not on the front page when he Googled my name? At the time I thought nothing of it. I did change my forum handle to tnash because of what my wife said which was simply would you trust uberwonky1 with your business?

I launched my personal site back in August with the intention of promoting my name as a brand and these are my lessons learned. The odd thing is that promoting a person is no different than promoting a business just on a smaller scale and I had been doing that for years.

Finding out what people say about you

This step is a simple one, go to your preferred search engine, type your name and hit enter. Most people do not look beyond the first 5 pages. Are you mentioned?

Repeat this on a couple of other engines, and make sure you include the big 3 Yahoo, Live and Google . If you’re serious about monitoring your identity check out Google Alerts — it sends you information on new content appearing in the index, news and blog search for given keyword. In this case, your name.

The next step is to visit your social media pages, LinkedIn, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, MyBlogLog etc and see what has been said both by you and by commenters. For now just note comments that may be inappropriate and also note your usernames (though you should know these).

Once we have this basic data you probably fall into one of three categories:

  1. Nothing in the first 5 SERP (search engine ranking pages) for your real name and single pseudonym username for social networks.
  2. Work or professional mention in the first 5 SERPS for your real name and several pseudonym username for social networks.
  3. Mixed mentions in the first 5 SERPS and multiple usernames including real name for social networks.

Of course you may find that you do not fit in these 3 categories, but my advice will still apply.

Creating a persona or Brand

My name is my brand. I’m Tim Nash the IT consultant. I’m known on forums as tnash where I am normally found doing somewhat critical site reviews for people. I write in British English and I have a sarcastic sense of humour.

This is my brand — it is who I am and people who know me will know it’s a pretty truthful brand. When I write a comment I try to provide both advice but also to convey that I’m open to questions. I want potential employers to know they can trust me and my advice.

I get about

  • 10% of my work and my company work through various forums,
  • a further 10-15% through the Venture Skills blog,
  • another 5% coming from various social networks.

When 30% of your work is directly from your brand you need to maintain it. However. I have two brands to maintain ‘Tim Nash the IT consultant‘ and tnash the forum moderator. I have to link the brands.

At this stage its worth deciding if you already have a brand, or if it is time to create one. The advantage of creating a new brand is a fresh canvas but it lacks history. While an old brand may have skeletons in the closet. I guess its how many skeletons are in your closet that dictates this. If in doubt start with your name and add your usernames at a later point.

“A domain name is worth a 1000 keywords”, its not quite true but having a domain name and website is a great start to defining who you and your brand is. When purchasing a domain for creating a brand try to focus on your name and use the correct TLD (top level domain) so timnash.me.uk or timnash.name rather then the more generic names. But what do you put on the site?

  • A blog! — not a bad idea but only if you have something to say
  • An About Me page or CV — This is probably the best idea
  • Links to your various profiles and social media sites — Helps to unite brands

I have gone with all 3: I have a blog which gets updated infrequently but tends to have pretty good content, an about me page and links to various sites which I participate in. The goal of the site is to be the hub of your on-line world, with each of your profiles linking back to the site.

Recommended Social Networks

A LinkedIn account. Linked in is a social media site designed for professionals it offers a way of sharing people you trust and recommend and a place to put up a mini CV. It also always ranks well on SERPs at least for Google meaning it’s a great way to get your brand up and running in little or no time.

A Del.icio.us account, I always recommend keeping two book marking accounts one professional and one personal. Your professional account represents well your professional interests. I once came across a CEO of a company, a well respected academic and his del.icio.us links included a couple of porn sites and a site on how to grow weed! I love looking at people’s del.icio.us accounts to find out their interests and it can be a great reputation management tool as many people will see your bookmarks as your professional interests.

Edit by engtech: I recommend creating professional (real name) and personal (first name, last initial) profiles on Facebook as well. Professional networking is in the early stages on Facebook, but it is already killing the online dating sites. I see it wiping out LinkedIn in the next 1-3 years.

Separating yourself into 3 identities online is always a good way of thinking, your real name, professional username (associated with real name) and personal username. So Tim Nash the IT consultant and tnash are easily associated but uberwonk1 is a different person.

Defending the image

If you build up an image and some soul writes about your drunken behaviour or a comment on Digg turns nasty how do you protect your reputation? What if some one starts using tnash to write slanderous posts?

The first is harder to deal with and requires a modicum of common sense. Is the comment true? Is it slanderous? Can you live with it? If it’s a true comment and you were seen with your pants around your ankles on top of your car that its best to ride out the storm, however if the comment is slanderous you can always approach the site owners and ask for it to be removed (normally the threat of lawsuits work) but do this at your own risk. However the easiest way to avoid any long term damage to these style comments is to create a strong brand and of course to control the SERPs (search engine result page — make sure you control what people find when they search for you). While aimed at companies Greywolf (a well known SEO Blogger) wrote a good list of sites that can be used to help with controling SERPs.

The second problem of a copycat or identity thief is easier to cope with but requires some forward planning in managing your identity.

ClaimID is a simple site which at first glance looks like many other social bookmarking sites but is designed to help you protect your digital identity. It offers several services including acting as an OpenID server, listing your sites and providing you with a microformat hcard.

Each of these is useful. I use OpenID whenever possible to login into site and always use my account from ClaimID. This has two advantages: I only need to remember one password/username combination and my comments can be checked for authenticity, as I have verified my claimID against my domain. ClaimID also allows me to list my forum profiles so people can see which forums I am registered at and using which username. Finally, it lists posts such as this guest blog which I may have done. This is only the tip of the iceberg with ClaimID, but even these simple steps allow people to check that it was me who posted that comment about their mother!

There are many other techniques and methods to help create and maintain a brand on the web and this was meant to be a short introduction to some of the techniques. I hope the post has inspired you all to go out and create a lasting brand. Since I adopted these steps I have seen sales increase by nearly 30% and have been asked to write papers and give talks. Building a brand around your name is worth doing. Isn’t it about time uberwonky1 was left in peace?

Tim Nash is a reputation management consultant, co-founder and primary consultant for Venture Skill. You can find Tim at

22 Responses

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  1. [...] Tim has written up a short article for Engtech regarding reputation management the article an Introduction to reputation managementt is well worth a read if you use or are planning on using the web for any thing other then personal [...]

  2. [...] Technorati, I found an excellent post on online reputation management posted to the Engtech blog.  Tim Nash has really thought through some areas of defining your own personal brand, something [...]

  3. Mark Mathson said, on April 11, 2007 at 10:38 am

    This is a good post, and timely for me as well.

    I have been pondering how I can begin ‘branding’ myself as an IT Consultant, and do it the right way.

    I of course have my own domain, but I have often thought, do I brand using my name, or create a ‘business’ name. Anyways, good post and it has given me some great insight.

  4. timethief said, on April 16, 2007 at 4:39 am

    Wow! Although your article is clearly written I’m not at all geeky. I’m going to have to read it again and again. However, I’ve taken the first steps to find out what people are saying about me. Thanks for the eye opener. I appreciate it.

  5. engtech said, on April 16, 2007 at 8:32 am

    It was an eye-opener for me. I’m starting to rethink my stand on keeping my blog identity and profession identity separately — I enjoy blogging and ultimately would prefer any job that views blogging favorably over one that looks down upon it.

  6. [...] Twitter has it’s dark side as Steve Rubel of Edelman recently found out. Tim Nash’s excellent post about reputation management had me thinking that perhaps it was time to start merging my personal blog into my professional [...]

  7. Christophe Ducamp said, on April 18, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Great post. Just published a first draft translation in french under “fair use”. Think it could help some french colleagues to be completed with french social networks sites.

    Tim and engtech folks, just let me know if you see any problem. Anyway, feel welcome in Paris whenever you want to have some discussion on such topics. Regards. — xtof

  8. Christophe Ducamp said, on April 18, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Oops, just forgot to mention the link in the previous comment. http://xtof.livejournal.com/13170.html

    Commentblocks should be wikifiable in the future via OpenID ;) Cheers.

  9. Tim Nash said, on April 18, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Hi guys,

    @Mark – The choice of using your name or creating a business name depends on how you see yourself and the services you provide. If for example you plan on rapid expansion and then to be purchased by a VC group and sold to Google I would go with a company name, but if you need to build a level of trust nothing in my mind says hey trust more then a personal introduction and what better way then using your name as that introduction?

    @Timethief hopefully its not to geeky even if once a month you spend 10 minutes looking for your name on search engines you made a nice start. Adding a linkedIn or Facebook account is another great way and once you have that the claimID is only a minute behind.

    @Christophe It’s great that you think its worth translating, though can you make sure to link back to the original post here though, thankyou.

  10. Mark Mathson said, on April 20, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    @engtech – When you say “rethink my stand on keeping my blog identity and profession identity separately” are you referring to establishing your real identity and using it with the current blog, or creating a whole new blog/site?

    @Tim- Thanks for the response. I agree and can see the difference in a ‘company brand’ and a ‘personal company brand’. I am going to have to make up my mind and begin publishing all of the things that have been stewing in my mind. I have good ideas, but I need to put them somewhere. :)

  11. engtech said, on April 20, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    @mark: I thought about the creating a new site approach, but I didn’t want to divide my efforts. So it’s more coming to grips with having //engtech on my job resume.

    It really is about the mental switch to the “do I want to work anywhere that wouldn’t want to hire me because of something I’m passionate about?” train of thought.

    I know there will be times when I’ll regret it (the Steve Rubel / Twitter situation earlier this week is a good example). But it’s more understanding that you just have to roll with those punches.

  12. Mark Mathson said, on April 21, 2007 at 12:50 am

    @engtech – I can see what your saying now. Having engtech associated with you or your resume certainly won’t hurt you or the skills/knowledge you have. Its your unique identifier in a sense.

    -

    I was also thinking about the potential privacy concerns and other internet ‘safety’ concerns with one broadcasting themselves, as a ‘brand’ and otherwise, through blogging and other means. I realize it can be hard to say whether or not someone would have any serious problems but I guess that is a risk of business or life in general. ;)

    Anyone have experience, good or bad with this? Any ideas, tips, things to consider through this?

  13. engtech said, on April 21, 2007 at 2:49 am

    @mark: My experience has been that the stuff that gets you in trouble is always the last thing you think it will be. This PR guy gets in trouble for bashing a magazine his company tries to have a relationship with. I’ve seen jealousy issues arise from reading old blog posts / forums that were written while in a previous relationship. There’s a term called dooced for being fired because of your blog.

    Using common sense with blogging helps (don’t blog at work, don’t mention your company, co-workers, family or friends unless they are actively involved with your blog), but have to be able to roll with the punches. Obscurity isn’t the same thing as privacy, and if anything your doing is public on the Internet the healthiest thing to do is put up some barriers of privacy (preventing total strangers from finding out too much about you), but also not to do anything you’d be ashamed of.

  14. [...] posted a couple of times this last week on both Spock and Wink. //engtech had a guest post on reputation management by Tim Nash earlier in the month, and claimD and openID have shown up in most of the top tech blogs [...]

  15. Digest for April 2007 « //engtech said, on May 01, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    [...] An Introduction to Reputation Management [...]

  16. Penny said, on May 02, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    Good article. Interesting idea about using a .uk domain as part of a brand for a person who writes in British English.

  17. [...] It’s hard to believe, but the blog is already one year old. It started as a lark, a way of reputation management, but it grew into something very different. Milestones are always a good time for reflection, so it [...]

  18. [...] Monitoring – Marketing Pilgrim 31 Places to Monitor Your Reputation Online – Search Marketing Gurus An Introduction to Reputation Monitoring – Internet Duct Tape Common Reputation Management Issues & How to Address Them – Invesp Chris Bennett on Reputation [...]

  19. The Blogger Tips said, on April 03, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    [...] An Introduction to Reputation Management – Introduction and Important of reputation [...]

  20. [...] the reader’s attention, but the content must then live up to expectations… or the blogger’s reputation will [...]

  21. [...] An Introduction to Reputation Management (by guest blogger Tim Nash) [...]

  22. [...] An Introduction to Reputation Management (by guest blogger Tim Nash) [...]


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