10 Dumb Things People Do To Their Reputation Online

I am often amazed by the things people do online. It seems to me that some people have no sense of how many people are watching their bad behavior unfold to the general public.

I tell my clients when I work with them: “Your status updates, profiles, posts, photos and comments are all a reflection of you and how you do business.  Your online presence is your first form of social proof and is often the first character check a client does prior to engaging you for business.


People check you out BEFORE they make a buying decision, not after.

I have compiled a list of ten dumb things I think people do to harm their reputation online. I’d love to hear the other things you have seen people do that leaves your jaw hanging open with disbelief!

1. Drunk pictures and posts.Lisa Larter - 10 Dumb Things People Do Online

It’s okay to have a good time, and it’s okay to have a picture taken with a glass of wine in your hand, but consider the impact of photo after photo with alcohol and those awful pictures where you got a little crazy after having too much to drink. You know, the ones where you have lost all inhibitions and have also posted some pretty strange copy to go with those pics.  Rule of thumb, upload party pictures the day after the party when you are thinking clear and do not run the risk of damaging your reputation while under the influence.

2. Personal attack on other people in a public forum.

We cannot and will not get along with every person we run into or interact with online.  It is okay to have your opinion and it be different from someone else.  What I am talking about here is when you call someone a “dumb b*tch” and post this in public.  I have seen people do this and I am always in shock at how hateful and disrespectful people can be to each other.  Take note – it is you who looks bad when you wage a personal attack on someone in public, no matter how wrong the other person is.

3. Inappropriate use of profanity.

Yesterday I did a search for a professional service in Naples Florida.  I found a person who fit the criteria I was looking for and took a quick look at their Twitter profile.  When I saw the blatant use of the “F” word being used repeatedly in their tweets, I knew I had not found the person I wanted to work with.  Now, have I ever used that word? Yes, I’m sure many of you have as well, but I have NEVER used that word in a public, professional forum. When hundreds, if not thousands of people can judge my credibility by one simple tweet – that’s NOT what I want them to see.  Keep your language clean. If you wouldn’t want your Mom to read it, it most likely doesn’t belong on a Social Media site.

4. Clicking on obvious phishing or virus links.

You know that picture of the half naked girl that was floating around on Facebook and you were so curious you had to click on the link to see the rest of the photo? Well guess what – everyone now knows you looked because the link was a virus and now your account is posting the exact same picture on all your friend’s profiles.  If you are going to use these sites (Facebook, Twitter etc), do a bit of research to find out what is legit or not. Please remember, when you click a link you put all your connections at risk too.  Last rant on this one, consider that picture, it shows up on a prospective client’s wall – what do they think of you now?

5. Failing to be responsive to client problems.

One of the things people often say to me when they start doing more for their business online is “What if someone says something bad about me?”  Whether you are online or not, customers who are dissatisfied with your service will talk, online as well as offline.  The worst thing you can do when someone posts a comment or sends a tweet to you is ignore them.  And trust me, I know that in some cases the client may not be 100% in the right. It doesn’t matter.  You still need to respond, offer to contact them directly and demonstrate publicly your desire to resolve the situation.  You always have an audience.  When you fail to respond, you leave your prospective new client wondering if that is how you will treat them too.

6. FarmVille, Mafia Wars and other game/app invites to your entire contact list.

Just don’t do it. Enough said.

7. Inviting everyone to local events on Facebook

This is one of my pet peeves.  You live in California, I live in Ottawa.  Why are you inviting me to your Stella and Dot party every week? Be strategic about who you invite to these events so that people do not add you to the event block list (I do this all the time on Facebook).  If you really want me to come to your event in California, you might want to send me a private message and ask me if I am going to be there at that time before you just spam me and all 4998 of your non-closest friends.

8. Trying to recruit people you have not spoken to in years to join your latest MLM venture.

I have been involved in MLM before. It is a great business model for those who are serious about it and want to work the business.  The industry however has a bad reputation because of how people try to recruit others into their business.  I am not kidding when I say I have received three Facebook messages this week from people I have never spoken to in my life, and one I have not spoken to in years, asking me to join their newest venture.  Social Media is great for building relationships – how about talking to me about the weather before you try and get me to make you money?

9. Getting political, racist or religious and being completely one sided in your opinion.

This is a slippery slope.  Avoid these topics at all costs unless there is a direct tie to your business and reason for you to state your opinion in these areas. Ask yourself: do my political, racial or religious views serve my clients? I didn’t think so.

10. Using other people’s page, profile or timeline for shameless self promotion.

There is this place on Facebook pages called “hidden”. It is usually where all the spam shows up. That’s right, when you post on my Facebook page and try to market your business, it usually gets hidden because it is wrong. Don’t try to take advantage of another person’s community to further your own business.  It just makes you look desperate and slimy.

The opinions expressed above are mine – I am sure you have some of your own and would love for you to share them below.  What things you think are most damaging to people’s reputations online? Also love to hear what you think about employees and how the things they do impact the business’s reputation they work for.


24 thoughts on “10 Dumb Things People Do To Their Reputation Online”

  1. Yes, unfortunately. As well as Big Brother HR. Big Brother Management. Big Brother partners. Big Brother family. And of course, Big Brother GOOGLE. The promise of ‘liberation’ through social media is actually a promise of more control, more guidelines, and more ‘damage’ to your reputation.

  2. Great info Lisa! I especially like #6 and #8. I am always getting these exact requests. You say it all when you say “why don’t you ask me about the weather before you ask me to make you money”!

  3. Thank you, thank you , thank you. While reading that, I did feel a little bit like that old lady in church who says “Hallelujah” when the Pastor talks about other people’s sins. I know we were all guilty of some of these things at some point, but there is a point as a business owner where you must decide to use social intelligence. (Or “Social Media” Intelligence) Thanks for posting this Lisa… I no longer have to wonder if I’m the only person thinking “Should I really do business with that person whose entire profile page is covered in Farmville High Scores?” You Rock! ~ ♥ ~

  4. Thanks Lisa, very good tips indeed. I’m especially sensitive to number 9, really don’t think this is the forum to spout political opinions. Also, ya, the whole game thing I just don’t get…You have to be thinking all the time…what would I say in person…what would I write in an article addressing fellow business people and so on. Sometimes I’m a little too inhibited and that’s another issue. But I’d rather not say anything if I’m not sure.

  5. Lisa we met at the ewomen conference last summer I gave you a granola bar? LOL and also am a proud mother of 3 doxies…..yep 3… anyway I am in Tampa Fl and now sure your local in Florida but welcome to the sunshine state, hope we can meet up sometime, I fallow you regularly and have recieved much knowledge from your posts ……..thank you for doing what you do…………
    Paula, -Tina, Lacey, and Elvis………

    1. Hi Paula! I am speaking in Tampa next week! Thanks so much for your comment and the granola bar last year! I remember that – I was starving and exhausted and you saved me! Gives your doxies a kiss for me 🙂

  6. Interesting post Lisa. I can’t disagree with anything you put up here, but I will say that I’m not sure that most people are doing these things with business in mind. For instance, I wouldn’t expect anyone on Facebook using it for business would ever send game requests to potential clients; at least I’d hope not. Overall though, in general terms these things irk me as well.

  7. All great points Lisa!

    Another one that’s just awful is signing up for various accounts and then leaving them to die a painful (and public) death. If you haven’t updated your Business Facebook page in 2 months, it’s doing you more harm than good (IMHO).

  8. interesting… how is Inviting everyone to local events on Facebook harming the inviter’s online reputation? There are various organizations who provides service to better a bad unjustified online-reputation. check out this new field on Reputation Management

  9. Hey Lisa…..thank you for this post! Looks like I am guilty on # 7 “Inviting everyone to local events on Facebook”. Clarity please though…are you referring to posting on our walls or sending an invite to an event to our whole page?
    When our women’s group “First Tuesday LA” has events in LA I so post on our FT LA FB page as well as my personal since I know that not all the LA gals on my large list are on our FT LA page. I’ve reminded them to join but know that so many have not. So is it a problem to say “For All LA Gals” in subject line so others know to just disregard? It’s kind of the same thing as posting anything I’ve thought. Those who find it interesting or relevant will connect and others will just ignore. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Marcy, I am referring to when you individually invite every person you are friends with to your event, even when you know they live 5,000 miles away. Inviting local peeps to local events is great! I always want to know about the local stuff!

  10. Lisa this is great! I work with young adults and teens to develop a career choice and one of the things I have tried to get them to understand is “what not to do on Social Media” to prevent them from being hired for their dream job!!

    They all say well I’m private, or I don’t post those pictures to everyone or the new thing is to not use their last name so if someone is searching for them it won’t come up!

    I will RT this and add on FB!

    Thanks for tackling this subject!

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Lisa Larter Bio Image of Lisa x400

Lisa Larter

Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.

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