Are You Taking Care Of Your Online Persona?

You probably do it a hundred times a day.

You head over to Google and type in a quick search to find something. It could be the definition of a word. It could be a product you have been searching for. Or it could be a search to find the solution to a problem you’ve been having.

Search has now become a standard in our vocabulary. If you need something, you Google it.

But while you are searching for other things, someone could very well be Googling you.

It doesn’t matter if you write something, have a site, or use a social media platform. Even if you’ve completely stayed away from the Internet, with the tools available today, anybody that knows you could be writing about you.

  • They could write up a review of your business.
  • They could write about a party you recently attended.
  • They could post photos from Friday night’s big game.

It doesn’t matter if its true or not, or even if its you, you can be labeled within a few minutes time.

Yes, some names get lost in the masses. And if you have a common name, it may actually be harder to track what is being said about you.

But if you have a fairly unusual name, tracking can be as easy as Googling yourself once in awhile.

Start By Avoiding

The easiest way to avoid having problems with your online persona is to avoid making the wrong impression through your writing and posting.

  • Think before writing profanity – would you talk that way to your customers?
  • Avoid “water cooler” chitchat. You can’t talk behind someone’s back online – it’s always available to see.
  • Consider how your religious or political viewpoints will affect people around you before you post, build profiles, or add content to various sites.
  • Think before you post photos and videos, and be careful with your tags and descriptions.
  • Avoid derogatory or offensive comments on sex, race, religion, politics, etc.
  • Think before joining, sending or adding to any controversial site that may have implications on your ability to get work or connect with people in the future.

A general rule I’ve always used to teach my daughter is: Don’t post it if you wouldn’t want your mother, grandmother or future children to see it.

Marketing 101

While the above questions are there to make you think, in some cases you may also use them to weed out potential customers, and only work with people that have the same beliefs and ideas as you.

Be aware that when you’re online, anything can be used to determine how well you connect with a potential client. They may read your site, Google you to see what others are saying, and make a general impression before they ever connect with you in any way.

In real life, you may have a variety of friends in a variety of ways. You compartmentalize your life based on interests. You may end up in playgroups with your children, business groups to grow your photography, book clubs to feed your love of literature, and special interest groups based on your beliefs. Each group may or may not know you are part of the others. Yet online, every conversation you are ever a part of, every group you ever join, has the potential to influence each other, and ultimately help people base opinions on you as to what they find.

Before you continue building, take a minute and think about the image you are trying to portray. Who are you trying to attract as clientele? How can you reach out to them and show your personality without offending?

There is no right or wrong answer. Just remember to stay true to the image you are trying to portray.

What and How To Monitor

Heading over to Google every few weeks to perform a search is difficult because it’s hard to remember to do when you’re deep in the middle of running your business. So instead of creating a to-do task, or putting it on your calendar, Google it instead.

Google Alerts are the easiest way to keep on top of the latest news that relates to you.

Simply type in the search terms you want to monitor, choose the frequency, and the email you want it delivered to, and you can immediately see what is being said about you. I have a variety of Alerts coming to me every day – here are a few things you should be following:

  • Your name
  • Your business name
  • Your product/services if they have a unique name
  • Keywords pertaining to your industry
  • Taglines
  • Your employees’ names

It doesn’t take a lot of time. Just open up the emails each day and make a quick search on anything you see.

In some cases you’ll find comments that are a great boost to your business – head over to the blog post that mentions you and thank them.

And in some cases you might find some negatives. First, is it really necessary to correct? Some things are just passing comments, and really have no bearing on you or your business. Just simply ignore them and they will go away.

If necessary, you can follow up on the negatives. Can you fix the problem by contacting the writer and working to fix the problem? Can you contact the site administrator to have the comment removed?

Keep in mind that if enough is being said about you online, the occasional negative isn’t that much to worry about. You can’t be everything to everybody – as long as 80 to 90 percent is good, the negative will quickly move to the bottom of the list, and leave no doubt in peoples minds what the true opinion of you is.

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