Managing your personal online reputation

Changes and increased access to technology have allowed us to connect in more ways than previously possible. People have access to social media, news, articles, blogs, shopping websites and so much more in the palm of their hands. We connect with friends and family, keep up with our favorite brands, and see the current situation around the world. With all of this and more, we have an immense amount of power. However, with this power comes responsibility.

It is well known that brands use online resources to spread their reach and increase brand awareness and reputation. What isn’t as well known is that the majority of us have a personal online reputation that we may not even know about. Whatever you do online is out in the world – whether it be posting photos on social media, tweeting about your personal life, using LinkedIn to improve your professional life or even posting on Facebook about whatever comes to mind. Everything remains online. All of these options and access to them are incredible, but they have consequences.

No matter what you post about, positive or negative, people will make their mind up about you based on what they view online. No longer is it just word of mouth, it’s anything online about you that will give people an impression of who you are, without you even being aware of and having a right to respond. You have the capability, and to an extent the responsibility, to care about your footprint – with regards to both what you say about yourself and what others say about you. It’s almost impossible to control what others write about you but you can influence what they say by considering how you present yourself and what you post.

There are multiple ways for you to determine what the current state of your online reputation is. Most of the time, searching for your name on Google is straightforward and simple enough. Statistically speaking, the first page of Google attracts around 95% of the traffic towards your name, with 90% forming their first impression from it. It can be beneficial to take this a step further. 

Go through the results you find, look at more than one Google page, do a deep search and try to find exactly how many links lead to something that represents or discusses your online presence. Try and view yourself from someone else’s perspective. What would they think when they first see something about you online? How would they react to it? Would it give them a negative or positive impression? How can you avoid or control any negative impacts on your reputation and boost the positive results? There are several personal online reputation management tools which exist to help you answer these questions.

Why is personal online reputation management necessary today?

One thing we can all agree on is that nobody wants to have any sort of negativity attached to their personal online reputation. It’s not uncommon that with almost 65% of the world’s population being online, situations will definitely arise which affect a person’s reputation. Employers are known to search Google for mentions of potential candidates. Around 79% of employers reject candidates due to their online choices and reputation. 

Reportedly, Naomi H, a student who managed to land a NASA internship made one of the poorest decisions she could possibly have made online. She tweeted about it, being quite vulgar with the first tweet, receiving a massive response of around 3,000 “likes”. Homer Hickam, a member of the National Space Council, which oversees NASA, viewed the tweet and told her to watch her language. Naomi, without even realizing who he was, tweeted back an incredibly inappropriate response. He made himself known after the response and just like that, she immediately lost her once-in-a-lifetime position.

Your actions online can also affect those you interact with and your loved ones. A college student who boastfully tweeted about how she got arrested for public intoxication went viral, leading to the destruction of her online reputation. As a result, her family and friends had to suffer through intense media scrutiny. Even after so many years, links to the ordeal still appear on the first page of her results.

With the bad also comes the good. According to a survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, almost 40% of university admissions officers review applicants’ social media profiles. This also means that personal online reputation management can increase the chances of being accepted at a school of your choice. A high school student was just beginning their college application process, at the time, the student’s ‘friends’ had created a fake neo-Nazi twitter account using his real name and image. They then spent around six months growing the account by rattling off hate speech and engaging with other similar accounts. When the student learnt of this so-called prank, he was shocked and worried it would affect his chances of entering the college of his dreams. One thing led to another and he managed to get the account deleted, which he then used personal online reputation management methods to build upon his new social media presence which accurately reflected his image. In the end, he managed to get into the school by acting and responding as soon as he could to this negative reputation built by others of himself.

How to manage your personal online reputation?

As with many things online, it takes time and effort to begin managing your reputation. Analyzing and determining where your reputation stands is the best initial first step in knowing how to start moving forward. Consider the position you want it to be in. Have you made decisions in the past that may have had a positive or negative affect? Could your personal online reputation impact future plans?

Monitor content that is being said about you online without your or permission and ensure to  respond as soon as you can. It helps to be consistent with the content you post and make sure that you keep in line with your own personal brand – there is no point posting something online that does not align with who you are, be it personal or professional. Always take into consideration the risks and consequences of what you post. The repercussions of posting something negative can easily tarnish your reputation for several years. Clean up posts you may have uploaded in the past that no longer fit your current image. We all change throughout our lives and things we may have posted in the past can still influence the way people perceive us today.

Finally, if there is something you would like to suppress or promote, take advantage of personal online reputation management tools. ORM specialists such as Percepto help brands and individual clients to improve and manage their online narrative.

The past, present and future of your online reputation is determined by you. Control what you post, monitor it and plan what you put out onto the digital landscape in the future. 

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