Japan & India: Personal Branding Views from Two Cultures – December

Managing Your Online Brand Reputation

For our December post Dr. Amit and I chose to discuss the role of online personal branding in India and Japan as well as tips on how to successfully manage your brand online.

View from Japan:  Peter Sterlacci

Japan is considered one of the most wired countries and the Japanese are starting to jump on the web 2.0 bandwagon. Consider these facts:

  • Facebook has more than tripled its user base in Japan in less than a year.
  • Twitter estimates that people in Japan write nearly 8 million tweets a day, about 12 percent of the global total.
  • Japan’s biggest homegrown social networking site Mixi Inc. recently joined forces with Twitter to strengthen their ground against Facebook’s expansion.
  • LinkedIn added the Japanese language to its platform this Fall and is aggressively promoting themselves as the only professional social media network in the country.
  • Workplace solutions provider Regus found that close to 70% of Japanese companies agreed that social media is an essential aspect of branding.
  • Japan has the largest and most active blogging culture in the world. Close to 40% of the world’s blog posts are in the Japanese language.
  • As Japanese internet users spend the most time visiting blogs worldwide, blogging has become a crucial social media tool in Japan to promote their services and products.
  • Google has announced a link-up with Japanese super-band AKB48 that will see the all-girl-group begin using its Google+ social network to interact with their fans in the country and overseas. 

Clearly the Japanese are establishing their presence online and knowing how to manage their online identity is more important than ever as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ require usage of real names. We are seeing the start of an online usage mind-set shift in Japan from spending time mainly online in the ‘interest graph’ (looking for information) to embracing the ‘social graph’ (interacting with others or promoting oneself). As such online identity and reputation management is becoming more crucial in Japan’s Web 2.0 economy.

5 Factors to Manage Your Online Identity

If you are digitally present, are the results ‘on-brand’ or ‘off-brand’? Remember, whether you realize it or not, you ARE your Google results to people who do not know you. Knowing your place in the digital world is more important than ever before.

Willam Arruda, founder of Reach Personal Branding, says there are 5 factors in measuring your online reputation: volume, relevance, purity, diversity, and validation.

  1. Volume: how much information exists online about you?
  2. Relevance: how consistent is this content with who you say you are?
  3. Purity: how much is purely about you and not someone else with the same name?
  4. Diversity: how diverse is the content about you including text, video, images, photos, etc.?
  5. Validation: what are other people are saying about you in testimonials, comments, recommendations, likes, +1s, etc.?

Reach’s free ‘Online ID Calculator’ will measure these 5 factors and help you to make sense of your Google results so that your online identity is aligned with your real-world personal brand.

Tips to Enhance Your Online Reputation

  • Volume: If you need more results that are about you, set up social networking profiles on many sites by editing your current branded bio and establishing accounts at Naymz, Ziggs and other sites.
  • Relevance: Write an article about your area of expertise and post it to an appropriate online portal. Find blogs related to your area of thought-leadership, subscribe and comment when you have something valuable to contribute. Review books related to your area of expertise at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Publish relevant white papers to SCRIBD.com. To learn how to turn one real-world communications activity into a year’s worth of online content, check out this video: http://bit.ly/realvirtual.
  • Purity: Sign up for an account at Vizibility.  The service allows you to identify the Google results that are about you and create a “Search Me” button that you can include in your e-mail signature, your LinkedIn profile, on your blog, etc. This will help you to remove content that is unflattering or inconsistent with how you want to be known.
  • Diversity: Sign up for a Flickr account and post relevant images. Set up your Google profile. Put your branded bio on an About.me or Flavors.me site. Create your channel on YouTube and Vimeo and start posting videos related to your expertise. Finally, set up your own VideoBIO.
  • Validation: See what others are saying about you by setting up alerts on all search engines, but specifically on Google.  For Twitter set up alerts on TweetBeep. Every time someone uses your names you will be alerted to that you can monitor how others are validating your brand.

View from India:  Dr. Amit Nagpal

Reputation of a person is an opinion about that entity, typically a result of social evaluation on a set of criteria (Wikipedia). Reputation is broader than image. We can manipulate our image by presenting the positive side and suppressing the negative side (negative information) but reputation is the sum total of our impression and others’ opinions and it is comparatively difficult to manipulate.

Online Usage and Reputation in Indian context

India has 121 million internet users and in past one year 25 lakh new users have been added. Pavan Duggal, Supreme Court Lawyer rightly says about the social media and vomiting revolution in India, “Indians today on social media are vomiting everything about their lives, social, personal, professional, otherwise. It is only a matter of time before people realize what they have said could impact them for times to come.” According to a recent IMRB survey carried out in India, nearly 30 % internet users utilize social media. According to the agency offensive web content in India primarily includes abusive language, slander, jokes about religion/community, degrading women and challenging the authority of government/state.
Indians (like the eastern cultures) are often emotional, judgmental and can quickly jump to conclusions. The sense of duty can be very strong (when it comes to family especially) and emotional outbursts (both positive and negative) are more likely to appear on social media. The long term impact of such outbursts on the online reputation of the person need to be understood.

How do we build or spoil our online reputation?

We build and spoil our online reputation by writing, commenting and posting the wrong, biased or negative stuff. This is what we can control. Others also write about us, comment on our writings and thus contribute to our reputation. This is partially controllable only. If you are basically a mature person, it is likely that people will write positive stuff about you. But it is also possible that your professional competitors or people with whom you had major differences of opinion or clashes of interests may write bad stuff just to malign you. This is also technically controllable to some extent as you can use SEO or OR management companies to suppress the matter so that its page ranks go down.
On one hand, when negative stuff starts appearing about you, it may mean you are catching lot of public attention because of your success and negative content may be the reflection of the jealousy which has begun to spring up. The way you handle that jealousy is very critical and will show your true self and maturity to the world. Here is a brief description of the activities which build or spoil our online reputation.
  •  What we write (microbolgs and blogs): All that we write on the social media and other internet sites becomes permanent or semi-permanent in the digital world. Media is media, even if it is social media. So be careful what you are posting.
  • What we comment (comments on the microblogs and blogs of others): Comment to share your knowledge but not to boast. Comment to share your perspective but not to show your superiority (or put someone else down). Comment to promote yourself but also promote and encourage others. In simple words maintain a delicate balance.
  • What we post (photos, quotes, questions and so on): A picture says a thousand words. So what do your pictures say about you? What do your questions and quotes say about you? Do you post sarcastic, stingy and negative quotes all the time? It certainly brings out the negativity inside you.
  • What we reveal (between the lines) about ourselves: Sometimes you try to act smart and try to be politically correct by not saying something, but your incomplete sentences, tone or something else can be easily read between the lines. Sometimes you want it to be read; sometimes you don’t even realize what you have told indirectly.
Remember employers are checking social networking profiles of candidates on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, to gain insight into how you will fit into their business.

What if I have a negative past?

There is a famous saying, “Every saint has a past and every rogue has a future.” An average person is neither a saint nor a rogue though. But the point is if you have made blunders in the past and they are present online for the world to see, treat it as a pressure to grow and transform yourself. Indian literature has scores of examples. There was a dacoit Unglimal who would cut the fingers of people he had looted and hanged them in his neck as souvenirs. Even such a hard hearted dacoit transformed himself and became a reputed saint later.
If you manage the transformation inside you, it would be easier to portray it outside and the good news is that Google is going to give more and more importance to the latest content. The newer self of yours can easily replace the older persona online.

So what do I do to build a good reputation?

Just try to grow as a person all the time and whatever your true self is, will be out in the social media sooner or later.
  • Be humble
  • Accept your mistakes
  • Monitor your reputation
  • Analyze the comments and check whether you need to improve yourself
Accept that you have made mistakes in life and you still do and it is part of being human. Try your best not to repeat them and always make a sincere effort for personal growth.

Protected by Copyscape Online Infringement Detector

About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+