It is becoming common knowledge that the Internet is the wave of the future. With the rise of social media marketing, analytic software, and smart phone applications, our connection to the world is becoming easier and easier to access and understand. Almost everyone has a page about him or her. Whether that be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or even a basic website; we are now facing the fact that we have an online image. We post photos, events, comments, etc. on many different platforms, but often enough, we do not think about the potential consequences of those actions. This does not apply to just individuals either, but businesses and organizations as well. Being aware of your digital image and reputation is soon going to be a skill that we will all have to develop. Why is that? Do we not have the right to privacy anymore? Should it matter how I appear online? All these questions lead to the big question: why does it even matter?
The bitter truth is that our real world is quickly becoming so integrated with our digital world, that deciphering between them is becoming difficult and even useless. Potential employers, potential clients, and potential open doors can easily be nixed by what exists online. Now if you’re thinking “Oh my, I have no idea what I’ve posted over the last five or so years of my life, how can I control something so vast?”, please remain calm. It’s not all dark and gloomy; there are plenty of ways to control and upkeep your online image, so that how you are in real life accurately reflects you in the digital world. Ironically enough, there are new services and tactics emerging to help individuals and companies makeover their online image. For the purpose of this post, here are some ideas and strategies that help in healing digital reputations.
Check for Damage
Google yourself. See what is out there about you or your business. Browse through various search engines (only a couple pages from each) to see if there is anything harmful, if so, mark it down. The key to maintaining your online image is being aware. Know what’s out there about you, watch what you post, comment on, etc. Don’t forget to check out the image sections as well. Nobody wants an embarrassing spring break photo to pop up, right? Another option is to set up Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts). This service allows you to insert keywords like “John Smith”, and anything that is posted about Mr. John Smith can be sent to your inbox.
Cover It Up
Find something not so great out there? Don’t worry, there are ways to fix it. One major way to hide the “not so good” things out there is to do the opposite: post great things. Most of the Internet now functions by establishing feeds. This makes the newest and most relevant items pop up first and the older ones harder to find. Begin a routine to post good, happy things with minimal “bad” things as possible. This will help cover up and make those pictures or information you don’t want to be found, much harder to spot.
Hire a Service
There are actually many places and websites popping up that help revamp online reputations.
- Defend My Name (http://www.defendmyname.com/)
- Naymz (http://www.naymz.com/)
- Profile Defenders (http://profiledefenders.com/)
If you would have told anyone twenty years ago that one day we would all have an online, digital presence––they would given you a puzzled look. Even though it’s strange and we may not want to admit it, we all have a duty to maintain our online image like we would ourselves in normal reality. Watching your posts, comments, opinions and pictures is just one step to prepare your self for the digital age. No one wants to lose a job, get denied from a school, or burn bridges, so with that said lift your head up and stay positive. Being aware and taking charge of your online reputation takes time, but it is a skill that will be valuable for a lifetime.