As a business owner with interests in a number of different industries, I love to watch business-related TV programs such as Dragons’ Den, The Profit, Shark Tank and even The Apprentice. I find it fascinating to see the mistakes people make in business and how they are fixed, and try to ensure my own businesses practices integrate learnings from the lessons of others.
This past weekend saw one of the best business ideas I have ever seen on Dragons’ Den. Two entrepreneurs entered the Den with a business started in the USA. They opened by saying they were looking for £100,000 for a 1% investment, which valued their business at £10,000,000. Usually, when someone makes such a huge valuation of their business, they’re sent packing as having unreal expectations. Not so with these business owners, however. Not only were they taken seriously, but they had the Dragons competing to invest before they eventually chose the tech entrepreneur Peter Jones, giving him 2% of their business for £100,000.
So what sort of business has multimillionaire business owners fighting with each other to invest their cash? The business is called BrandYourself, and is a tech business operated online. The website works on a subscription model, and allows its members to monitor their online reputation in search results and on social media.
Why would you want to do this? Everyone, at some stage, has posted something online, whether on Facebook, Twitter or on the comments section of a blog or forum, that could be considered ill-advised. It may be completely innocent, such as a photo of you at a party after one too many sherbets, or could be a polarising opinion on a sensitive subject matter. It could be something you’ve posted many years previously, perhaps when you were younger and less aware of the repercussions of posting something like this.
For example, teenager Paris Brown was fired from her job for tweets she had made when she was aged between 15 and 16. Had she used BrandYourself before she applied, she would have been able to clean up her online reputation before it became an issue.
An Australian man was also dismissed by his employer after something he posted on Facebook and, last year, YouTuber Jack Maynard was forced to leave I’m A Celebrity after Tweets he had posted years earlier came to light.
The website mentions how employers look at social media profiles, and Google results, before deciding whether or not to hire someone. Businesses also check the online activity of their employees to make sure they’re not bringing their employer into disrepute.
So how does BrandYourself work? You can register on the website and enter your name, social media account details, and other bits of information before running a scan. Their software then checks through your social media history, and Google results, looking for posts and images that may be inappropriate. The social media posts are grouped together in bands, such as potential bigotry, sex, bullying and profanity. You can then review each of those posts and either mark them as OK (if you believe they’re not going to affect your career chances) or delete them.
The site searches through Google for mentions of your name and, much like the way Engage Web offers reputation management for clients, it allows you to categorise the results as either positive, negative or neutral. Just like reputation management, you then have the option of boosting positive or neutral results, in order to bury any negative results.
It shows the status of your online reputation in a ‘credit report’ style, with a needle showing either red, amber or green. Incidentally, my Google presence could be better because of the Scottish footballer by the same name – many of the top 30 results for ‘Darren Jamieson’ are about him.
So what’s your online reputation like? It’s definitely worth checking out before it’s too late.
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