The many different areas in which you’re active online all come together to create what is somewhat of a digital trail, which is perhaps more powerful as an interaction tool than a paper-trail. With the different kinds of information about a person or entity “living” online, it’s much quicker and easier to either make contact with that party for whatever reason, good or bad and it’s also much quicker and easier to conduct some research on them, for whatever purposes. As much of a slippery slope this point-of-view may present for anyone who would naturally seek to maintain a web presence, there is simply no dispelling the need for an online presence, whether it’s to promote your company/ brand or to engage with the people forming part of your personal and professional networks, so there’s no getting away from the fact that we each have some or other kind of online presence.
That comes with some responsibility though, responsibility to maintain an online presence on which there are three pillars to make it a positive one.
Whether you’re looking at it from the point of view of an individual or from that of a company or business, the fact which remains is that your presence online will inevitably come right back to you personally. You may work for a certain company and you may perhaps even own and operate your own business/ company, but the fact which remains is that your personal name will somehow be linked to it. In the online world, that simply means whatever mission, vision, belief system, scandal, etc, your ties are associated with, it’s a reflection on you personally as well.
Now is this fair? Probably not, however it remains a reality nevertheless. So the first pillar on which an online reputation is built is that of your basic information, which always comes back down to elements such as your name, what you’re about and what you believe in. For this pillar of your online presence to be a solid one, it simply needs to be truthful and accurate, which means you must be consistent with the information you publish about yourself online. Repetition breeds trust and legitimacy, somehow…
As much as in the legal sense companies are indeed registered in order for the directors and stakeholders to separate their personal affairs from those of their companies, in the online world it’s one and the same thing. That’s why if there’s some sort of scandal which is made public, the quotes will go something like “Name and Surname of company X was involved in…” and the likes. It also happens the other way around, where if the company you work for is exposed for some unsavoury activity, somehow your name will be personally linked to it.
Again, this isn’t necessarily fair, but that’s just how it is. Fortunately though, just as is the case with making sure your information found online is accurate, this pillar of maintaining a good online presence doesn’t have to be left to what can otherwise be a very wicked online world. If your online presence and engagements take a little bit more of a serious form (in other words if you do more than just chat with your connections online), there might be a need to deploy some professional online reputation management services, even if only just to get assessed for the risk your online presence carries and to possibly off-set that risk before it has any chance of developing into a real threat.
Now this is where you have a little bit more leeway by way of the actual content you can put out there, so naturally this is the one pillar of maintaining a positive online presence which you would engage more directly yourself. Your engagements pretty much encompass what you do online – how you spend the time during which you’re connected to the World Wide Web through various means.
It’s also not as simple as looking at it from the point-of-view of what you post on your social media platforms and what commentary you engage in, etc. The use of your smartphone and other connected mobile devices serves as somewhat of an extension of what you do online, with something like location-tracking revealing quite a lot about your life, interests, etc. So you have to make sure to take control of aspects such as these, only really making public any information which you’re comfortable sharing.
Unfortunately in the world we’re living today, the onus is on you to “switch off” those elements of your online presence which you find to be a bit intrusive since the default settings almost always have these set the other way around. So if you don’t want your device to track the web pages you visit or even the locations you frequent, for example, you are the one who has to switch those features off.
These three pillars of positive online reputation management each have a lot of dynamics which can have an encyclopaedia published, but it helps to at least know about them so that you know where to start if you’re on a mission to better manage your online presence.