Not Liking Your Online Profile? Clean It Up & Track Yourself.

online-profile

Cleaning up your online profile―and creating the one you want―is becoming easier for the layperson as we understand how information flows and accumulates on the internet.

First, find out about yourself.

Facts:

1. 85% of search-engine users do not venture beyond the first page when researching someone.

2. Nearly 90% of recruiters conduct some sort of online investigation into recruits, and of these,

3. Almost 45% dropped someone from consideration based on information they found online.

Solutions:

1. Enter your name in the search bar of Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, three of the most widely used search engines.

2. If you have a common name, like Susan Smith, do a few different searches, adding your current or past employers or your hometown to your name.

3. Search images as well for any potentially embarrassing sorority pillow fight pics.

If nothing appears about you, that’s great if privacy is your only concern. But if you want to create a good impression for clients, employers, or potential new acquaintances, it helps if results return with positive entries (a blurb about a promotion,  civic association membership announcement, a listing of volunteers at a charity events, etc.)  and these results will be at or near the top of page one if you have few other online notices.

If you see negative results (an embarrassing photo on a friend’s website, an inglorious, angry rant on FB or a really odd purchase you made), chances are others, including prospective employers, will see them, too.  The beer keg handstand that was funny back in the day isn’t so amusing to an HR manager considering you for a company position who may believe it depicts poor judgment.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been brought on to research and then polish up someone’s online profile (or, increasingly, from parents of intern or college-age children).   You can remove the items yourself, ask your friend on whose timeline these goofy pics show up to take them down, push down these unwanted results until they appear way further down in the Google search engine return by running a strong paid social media campaign or pay professional reputation companies or investigation firms that perform this task. But from your desk, at the very least, please keep an eye on your internet self by:

Setting up alerts. To get an e-mail when your name is mentioned in news stories, blogs, or videos, go to google.com/alerts and enter your name, your e-mail address, and how often you would like to receive updates (daily, weekly, as they happen). Again, if you have a common name, add your company, hometown, profession, or job title. This service won’t alert you to everything (Facebook entries, for example), but it will help you keep track of new information that might come up on search engines.

For a service that tracks your mentions on major social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, try the aptly-named Mention. The platform can also alert you whenever someone includes your keyword in a post.

The most important advice we can give people is: do not post anything that you yourself cannot wholly control, including the ability to retract the post entirely from the internet.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

How is Your WebFace? Controlling Your Public Image.

Kicking off the new year with a new you?  Just make sure you are in control of your old you – especially online, given the access by billions to your digital information.

We’ve all experienced negative postings online.  Whether it’s that awful office party picture, a scathing review or even serious, defamatory comments.   Several ways to deal with these detrimental posts are:

1. Be upfront. Any potential employer/customer/prospective date with even a smidgen of common sense will Google you the minute they’re serious about hiring, doing business with or dating you. It’s far better to come forward with the disclosure  than wait for them to discover the negative information on their own. Let them know what’s out there, the truth and how you intend to handle it. (This may actually work as a positive for you in that it displays your awareness of online reputation and perception management.)

2. Apologize if necessary. It can be the case that you are wrong.  You made a hasty mistake; an inappropriate tweet about your boss or a co-worker, an arrogant post about what you expect from people you date, even a goofball picture that doesn’t truly represent your best characteristics. A basic tenet of crisis control is, if you have caused the situation, apologize quickly and that will usually immediately lower the temperature of the perceived slight.

3. Get it down. Many people are just now beginning to realize the permanence of the web and how it can create a major branding challenge: once negative information is out there, it’s  difficult to remove. If you’ve created the questionable content (a thoughtless tweet, a tasteless YouTube video) you can delete it and — eventually — it will be removed from the caches of Google and other search engines.  (You can hasten the process by asking Google to remove a page or site from its listings — but only once it’s been taken down). If you don’t control the content, all you can really do is ask the person who does to remove it. This could be polite (a friend who’s posted an inappropriate photo to Facebook will probably oblige you) or not-so-polite (you may need to enlist a lawyer if someone is defaming you and won’t desist).

4. Control your SEO. The best and surest way to overcome negative information that’s plastered on the web? Create your own content and drive the bad stuff down in search engine rankings. No one but your worst enemy will bother to visit Page 20 on a Google search; most readers will stick to the first page or two. Creating a robust social media and online presence guarantees that the top results will be the ones you want people to see. Studies have shown that video, in particular, is prized by Google and will rank highly, so you might want to consider a video blog. Traditional blogs, because their content is updated frequently, are also search-engine-friendly. Creating profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter also helps (they’re frequently at the top of Internet searches), and it also never hurts to get quoted in the media or write articles for various publications (which benefits anyone’s personal brand).

If you stick to the principle that everything you input will be seen by a prospective contact, you should be able to eventually develop enough self filters to avoid undoing your reputation online.  (Conversely, being too close-mouthed will make others think you are insignificant or have things to hide.  Play it real and play it smart.)

Included below is a link to 50 niche search engines you should be aware of; Google isn’t the only search site people use to research your background and credentials.

Our Operatives: Street smart, web savvy.

As always, stay safe.

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