Protect Your Employees, Online

Have you ever checked out what people are saying about your brand on blogs and on photo-sharing sites such as Yahoo’s Flickr or Google’s Picasa? Have you also taken the time to monitor what people are saying about your employees? You owe it to your employees to look out for their reputation online when it is associated with your brand, just as much as you ought to look out for your corporate reputation online.

In today’s Web 2.0 environment, people pour out to the world everything that happened in their day. They went to the car wash on 14th Street and had a great experience, they went to the Italian restaurant and continue to go on-and-on about everything that happened. Not only might they mention your brand, they may also talk about your employees—sometimes mentioning them by name. With the advent of camera phones, it’s gone to a whole new level where now unhappy customers snap a quick pic and post it online, sometimes with colorful language anyone would be mortified to see.

Your employees work hard for your brand. Sometimes they have a rough day or just a difficult situation, other times there are just bad customers who ask for the employee’s name and the customer leaves upset. In the old days, the angry customer might tell all of their friends and/or phone the manager or district manager to complain. However, in the millennium, some angry customers are turning to the Internet to vent, often giving the exact location of their experience and the employee’s name.

For obvious reasons, I’m not going to give specific examples, but will say that there three major types of employee mentions that we see online:

  • Recap of someone’s day or memorable experience with a company
  • Comments on forums
  • Photos of employees at work with derogatory captions (Pictures often taken with a camera phone)

At this point you are probably thinking this is just a customer service issue. The reality is that it is also a human resources issue because the commentators are sometimes unhappy employees and irate ex-employees writing about colleagues. I tend see this more often within companies who have younger employees—particularly a large number of employees falling into Generation Y. This younger generation grew up online and is completely in tune with the Internet, and very comfortable divulging anything through social media and on personal blogs. What do you do?

When you find something online, take steps get the negative content removed, and at the very least take steps for its visibility to be mitigated. The second recommendation is to make employees aware that this is happening. Show screenshots of comments on Google Local and Yahoo Local, both of which allow users to easily post comments about a specific location within your company. Look for examples of photos with captions about poor customer experiences. Talk about how recruiters are Googling prospective employees, and that these comments do make their way into search engines for all to find. By letting your employees know this is happening, and showing live examples of names finding their way online, employees will be more cognizant of how their behavior can be documented on the Web, and how it can impact future career opportunities.

While this is very concerning, there is a silver lining out there—positive comments such as “the extra friendly employee at ABC company” also make their way to the Internet. In fact, I once had such a great experience, that I literally blogged about it while on the phone with the customer service representative. Before getting off the phone, I told the agent that I posted a comment on my blog and to check it out. Be mindful of these positive comments about your employees making their way to the Internet. These are the comments that you would love the whole world to see and it just may work to your advantage by boosting the positive comments to the top of the SERPs.

Jessica Bowman is the Director of SEO for and an independent consultant and author of the SEM / SEO In-house Blog. The Brand Aid column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Brand Aid | Channel: SEO | Search Marketing: Branding | Search Marketing: Public Relations


About The Author: is a free agent SEO strategist available for SEO site audits, SEO training and helping in-house SEO programs become a well-oiled machine that cranks out profits. The In House column appears weekly at Search Engine Land.

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  • Neuro

    “You owe it to your employees to look out for their reputation online”

    Interesting not quite sure the courts/ the masters and servants act would agree with you on that.

    Otherwise I and loads of others would have sued BT for comparing our highly technical grades with junior supermarket managers.


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