Top 5 Online Credibility Killers

As a follow up to my last piece titled “9 Great Online Credibility Builders,” I felt it was important to point out the flipside: credibility killers.  In many ways credibility killers are even more important because it only takes being guilty of one cred killer and all your hard earned credibility could be out the window.

online reputation

So, let’s begin:

 1.)  Poor LinkedIn Profile:  When checking out a person’s professional background and cred online, LinkedIn is often the first stop for me. It amazes me how little effort some people invest in it. To have good cred your profile has to present you in the best possible light. That means it needs to be filled out completely and accurately.

Many folks simply don’t know about all the bells and whistles (like videos, Slideshares, etc.) that they can use to spice up a profile. It also helps to have more than one or two testimonials. Need more? Then try giving more. And please, make sure your information is accurate, grammatically correct, and devoid of typos.

2.)  Bad Website:  When I say a “bad website” I mean a website that’s unprofessional. That means broken links, bad grammar, a lack of design, etc. One of the worst things you can do is point out the fact that you don’t have your act together with a lame, “Sorry, our new site is under construction. Come back soon.”

3.)  Inactive Blog:  Many folks start a blog with the best intentions only to lose steam after a year or two. So, when it’s the middle of summer and your last post talks about building a snowman, you’re gonna look bad. In fact, you’ll look bad even if the only obvious thing is that you haven’t posted in a few months.

Blogs are like plants, they need to be watered. If they aren’t, they’ll look bad and make you look bad.

4.)  No Facebook Business Page: Yea, I know they screwed up on their IPO, but that’s not a reason to ignore the power and influence of Facebook. The fact is that if you have a business, product, service, organization, etc. and you don’t have a dedicated page for it on Facebook – you just killed your credibility.  Not only should you have a page, but it should be as cool, engaging and informative as possible.

5.)  Unprofessional Behavior: Unprofessional behavior can take many forms online, from an embarrassing rant on a blog post, to an Anthony Weiner moment on Twitter. Be smart about what you do and say.

Remember, the Webis an exciting place. It’s also unforgiving. Be sure you learn the rules of engagement for every online platform you use and always keep your professional image in mind.


Reputation Photo via Shutterstock

14 Comments ▼

John Follis


John Follis heads up Big Idea Video, creator of short format, high concept video that captivates and persuades prospects. According to Forbes, 76% of marketers expect to invest in video this year and make it their #1 marketing strategy. John Follis honed his talents as Creative Director and Co-founder of Follis/DeVito/Verdi, one of Madison Avenue’s most successful, award winning ad agencies.

14 Reactions

  1. I think you missed Twitter in the list. I think it’s still one of the most popular social media platforms these days.

  2. I’m particularly guilty of judging people by their website design. Lame website = no cred. And John makes a good point above; if they have a twitter account that is all RTs or it looks like they’ve hooked it to some RSS feed I also dock their cred.

  3. I think your list can apply to small business websites as well. The credibility of the business is tied to the credibility of its business owner/management. Before I purchase from a small business website I check the “About Us” to see if the owners/management are prominently displayed. I then quickly check them out on LinkedIn and BBB. I check out their blog, if they have one, just to see if it’s professionally written and active. For me, an inactive blog is more damaging than having no blog at all. In the end, if the owners aren’t visibly standing behind the reputation of their business, then they’re probably not going to get my business.

  4. Some great points – another element that I judge on is the lack of a URL’d email @gmail @me @yahoo. If you are in business and have a web presence figure out how to host your email if not, I am not sure how to reach you. This is very akin to @DaveHubbard comment. A defense I will give to the SMB is that it is SOOOOO hard to keep up with the blogging no matter how good and consistent you are. I am a prime example – I am a word-smither and it is easier to make a short comment like this rather than craft a 1-2 page blog about something.

  5. Thanks! A nice reminder of making sure we present our businesses online with as much care and attention as we present them in the real world.

  6. I believe two through four are due to bad decisions for most business when hiring an outside firm to do their work. They will hire someone out to do a quick and dirty webpage or blog, maybe even do a contract for a year for regular content. After the finished product, the owners of the company haven’t been trained on what they should be doing for long term sustainability of their companies presence online. Most of these can be avoided extremely easily with a little thought and effort.

  7. Good points to be sure, but be careful when you point your finger. For example, in point number one regarding Linkedin profiles you tell us: “And please, make sure your information is accurate, grammatically correct, and devoid of typos.” The same can be said of blog posts. There is a typo in the last sentence of the first paragraph: “That means in needs to be filled out completely and accurately.” I believe you meant “it” not “in”. My point here is not to berate you for a typo, I certainly have made my share of typos. It is to tell everyone that you should not turn away from a potential client, business, partner or friend without looking at the big picture. I agree that you should always strive for excellence, but think twice before you decide to be “unforgiving”.

    • Thank you, Karin, for the heads up! I corrected the typo on this article.

      Those types of typos often are hard to spot (using the word “in” instead of “it”) because they pass through an automated spellchecker with flying colors. A well-made point. :)

      - Anita

  8. I think you can really do without a Facebook business page these days. There is very little interaction on Facebook (from a business POV), and though it can be helpful if you don’t have an actual website, it can actually be a distraction from your web content if you have an active blog/website.

    On the other hand, if you REALLY want to get some social media stuff going outside your main blog, then Google+ is the way to go nowadays. Early adoption is still low, but there’s a lot more people talking on it that FB, plus it’s got businesses and professionals in mind, rather than the noise you see on FB.

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