Got A Bad Online Rep? How To Clean Up Your Virtual Image

August 11, 2014  |  

Model and wife of John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, recently admitted to Esquire that she’s “much nicer in person than on Twitter.” The virtual world allows us to be a little more bold and much more sassy, as is Teigen online. But getting too bold and too sassy on the Web can work against you.

“Nearly 39 percent of US-based employers use social networking sites to research job candidates and 43 percent of them said that they have found information that factored into their decision not to hire a candidate, according to a 2013 survey by global job site CareerBuilder.com,” reports The BBC.

“Your online personality is made up the of things you say, the items you like, share and post, the pictures you post, tag or appear in and the data or content that you provide about yourself. Most of this we can control, but some we cannot which is why it is so important to monitor your online brand,” Julia Angelen Joy of Z Group PR, who helps clients build their online brands, tells MadameNoire.

Even if you aren’t job hunting you should still be concerned about your online personality. “People who are not looking for a job might not care about their online brand. However, even if your job is guaranteed (highly unlikely) you can still be negatively affected at work and in your professional career by the public information that is online about you, as potential customers, coworkers and bosses may form opinions about you based on what they see online,” says Joy.  “This seems like basic information that everyone knows by now, but we still find shocking examples of digital carelessness from someone who should have known better (even companies that should have known better) all the time.”

While it is not difficult to manage your online reputation, it does take effort. Take proper measures to protect your online rep. “Set up Google authorship. Link your Google Plus account (if you don’t have one, set one up), to your online posts. This helps protect what you write and share as your own,” reports BBC.

And don’t be too shy to Google yourself. In fact, set up a Google alerts so that whenever your name pops up somewhere in the virtual world you will be alerted.

Have someone else check your online profiles and give your honest feedback. This was will help you understand how you’re being perceived online. “There are endless online resources about what should and should not be online. If you work, your human resources manager can help or you can hire an outside consultant,” explains Joy.

There are also various online identify calculators, such as Vizibilty’s Online ID Calculator, that will measure this for you as well.

When creating your profile and when tweeting and commenting, think of how you sound. Are you saying things your would never say out loud in the real world? “Generally, you need to start with the end in mind. Determine what you want people to think about you and then post the things that related to that,” says Joy. “If you want to have professional credibility in your field, then post articles and information about your industry and have online conversations about that. If you want people to know how dedicated you are towards protecting animals, then post lots of information about animal safety, adoptions and the like. Your profile is a summary of what you stand for, so guard it carefully. ”

You need to be  objective with looking at your own profile. What would you think of the content if it wasn’t yours?  “You need a profile that is engaging and pleasant to connect with as many people as possible. You do not have to like everything, but when you do stand up for something or disagree, do it rarely and respectfully. It’s like the sandbox — be nice or people won’t want to play with you,” recommends Joy.

If you have created a monster online, you can fix it. Here are some steps to take to repair your online rep.

–Shut it down: “Change all of your privacy settings to the most strict setting. This will keep most ‘visitors’ out while you do some housekeeping,” she says.

–Delete, Delete, Delete: “Once on lock-down, go through and delete any unprofessional content, comments or tags. If you have liked or followed something questionable in the past, go back to unfollow, unlike or remove it,” advises Joy.

–Do some blocking: There may be some people you will need to block.  “If you are worried about specific people, i.e. your mother-in-law, boss, or coworker and they do not expect you to engage online, block them,” offers Joy. “That way they cannot stumble upon something that was meant for friends. If they do expect to be online with you, create groups or lists for different categories to keep your content separate.”

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