Oy, the internet. Must it be so complicated? Can’t we all just have fun online and not worry so much? While some people do take that approach, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re active online and chances are you’re making one of these mistakes. OK, maybe you specifically aren’t doing these things, but many of our friends are.
1. Multiple Personalities
You use different websites for different parts of your life. You’re the professional you on LinkedIn. You are the friends and family you on Facebook. You’re the silly I’m out all night on a Saturday with my friends you on twitter.
While this approach of segmenting our lives may have made sense pre-internet, it is no longer a luxury we have. When I want to learn about you, I head straight to Google. It’s entirely possible that what I will find shows me much more than you intended. In addition to finding the professional you on LinkedIn, I may easily find content you shared on Facebook which you thought was only visible to friends, your ranty comments on YouTube videos and blog posts, and all sorts of photos of you (whether posted by you or someone else).
You’ve heard so much about the perils of oversharing that you’ve decided to be smart about how you approach your online presence. You know better than to post personal information revealing your vacation plans and when your house will be left empty and vulnerable. You know better than to complain about your neighbors and your boss online, lest they find out about it. You’ve heard the horror stories about people losing their jobs or destroying their reputation because too much was shared online.
You’ve heeded lessons that others have learned the hard way. The only problem is you’re overcompensating by not sharing enough information online. When someone Googles you, and believe me they are, are they finding the information that you want them to see or are they finding information that doesn’t tell your story in the best possible light? If you are not intentionally and strategically sharing information online, you may be defined by a hodgepodge of links to your extracurricular activities or from various sites that aggregate content about someone with your name, which may or may not indeed be you. It’s really a question of brand or be branded. Do you want to be defined by what is online about you by default, or take an active role in telling your story online?
3. Sharing, But Not Monitoring
You’re busily posting photos and updates online without taking the time to keep on eye on what the internet has to say about you. You’re under the impression that any information online about you is under your control because you decided to put it there.
When was the last time you googled yourself? Everyone else is googling you, so you’d better know what it is they’re finding when they do. While there are many sophisticated tools and strategies to monitor your reputation online, the first place to start is to set up Google alerts. Set up a Google alert for your name, nicknames, name of your business and other terms of particular interest. You will then receive an e-mail when that term appears online in a blog post, for example. Sure, it’ll also alert you when someone else with the same name is mentioned online, but this is a good thing. If another Irene Koehler got herself into a little legal trouble, I would definitely want to know about it so I could be sure to clarify things is anyone thought it was me.
This list is by no means complete. What common mistakes are you seeing people make? Please add them in the comments so that others can learn from your questions and suggestions.
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