Tag Archives: online reputation management

Managing your online footprint

I’m not talking about recycling and I’m definitely not talking about shoe size.

Your online footprint is the scope of your digital reputation. It includes every blog, post, comment, profile and picture tagged of you on Facebook. We create permanent files chronicling all of our thoughts, purchases and impulsive decisions. In the past, vicious rumors and embarrassing moments could crop up on isolated bathroom walls and then disappear. Today, hurtful comments appear to a much broader online audience and can’t be removed with paint or nail polish remover.

Kevin Colvin

What’s the worst that could happen? Well, for example, you could be Kevin Colvin. Colvin, an intern at Anglo Irish Bank, sent his boss an apologetic email explaining that he must miss work and travel to New York on Halloween due to a family emergency. Unfortunately, he posted a picture of himself at a Halloween party hours later, complete with a fairy godmother costume and drag makeup. Colvin’s boss not only forwarded the picture and pathetic email to his entire office, but Colvin’s story spread across the entire Internet, making an appearance on major broadcast news networks.  Now, if you Google “Kevin Colvin,” the first hit details this embarrassing story.

This is not an ideal situation considering a recent study by Career Rocketeer found that more than half of HR professionals and hiring managers will Google perspective candidates at some point during the hiring process. To go even further, 46% of those said that they eliminated candidates based on what they found online.

What should we do about it? Here are a few suggestions for cleaning up your digital footprint:

  • Remove contact information from your online profiles. There are too many people who can manipulate this information to your disadvantage.
  • If you can’t say something nice, at least say it to someone’s face. Rash decisions made in anger should stay as far away from your keyboard as possible.
  • Be cautious about whom you trust. Think twice before you send intimate photos of information, even in private emails. Anything that is considered “private” can be made public.
  • Be smart with your phone. Be careful who you give your number to and how you use GPS and other technologies that can pinpoint your physical location.
  • Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t want to be seen doing in public.
  • Monitor all photos that are tagged of you in social networks. Remove anything that looks suspicious, even if it is just the people around you who look sketchy.
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Online reputation management: exercising your digital “do not disturb” sign

Have you ever “Googled” yourself or your company?

If you haven’t, you should. Online personas are detailed, traceable and permanent. In a world of constant posting, commenting and uploading, we have lost control of our reputations.

Deep breath.

I recently finished reading Daniel Solove’s book The Future of Reputation. In it, he discusses the migration of conversation to social networks. More than ever, we’re losing our ability to control what is made public about us. But, that isn’t really the problem. According to Solove, “the problem is that these sites are not designed in ways to emphasize the potential harms to privacy and other consequences. Cyberspace is the new place to hang out, the perils of exposure notwithstanding.”

It’s true. In today’s climate of viral content, public defamation can be toxic and even deadly. So what are we going to do about it? We’re taking back the night. Maintain your online credibility by actively defending your privacy and staying in tune with the conversation. Try some of these FREE reputation management tools to stay in touch with your runaway online rep:

Google Alerts – It couldn’t get much easier than this free service that sends you an email every time your keyword is mentioned on the web.

Technorati – Search your keyboard for blog mentions with this search engine.

Twitter Search – This simple search engine allows you to enter a keyboard and browse real-time mentions on Twitter.

Who Links to Me – Understand your realm of influence by monitoring anyone who links to you.

monitorThis – Consider this your one stop shop. MonitorThis searches photos, tags, blogs, news, articles, microblogs, videos and websites from 26 different search engine feeds.

Rapleaf – Rapleaf lets you trace your online footprint. Users contribute to your online score, so create an account to start managing your privacy.

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