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In today’s digital age, more people are online than ever before. As of April 2023, approximately 65% of the global population, or 5.19 billion people, are active internet users. With such a large portion of the population relying on the internet for information and communication, it is crucial to manage your personal reputation online. In this article, we will discuss the importance of personal reputation management in 2023 and provide strategies for individuals to put their best foot forward online.
What is Personal Reputation Management?
Your personal reputation is how others perceive you. In 2023, much of this perception is formed based on your online presence. Personal reputation management involves strategies aimed at shaping and controlling how you are perceived online. This can include building a personal website, maintaining a strong social media presence, securing earned media features, publishing press releases, and monitoring online conversations related to you.
Unlike corporate reputation management, personal reputation management focuses on personal branding, privacy, and establishing a professional online presence. It is important for individuals to manage their personal reputations because how they appear in search results, particularly on search engines like Google, serves as their virtual business card.
Why is Personal Reputation Management Important?
Nearly 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and search engines account for over 50% of search traffic. When people want to learn more about someone, they will likely go online and perform a search. If you don’t show up in search results or have a negative online image, there can be tangible consequences.
Employers, for example, rely heavily on online research when evaluating job candidates. Approximately 90% of employers look at the social media presence of prospective employees, and around 80% have rejected a candidate based on what they found online. Your online reputation can affect both your personal and professional life. Roughly 50% of people are dissatisfied with what they find when they search for themselves online. If you don’t like what you see in your search results, it is likely that others won’t either.
Negative content or unfavorable search results are challenging to remove unless they violate privacy or defamation laws. Consequently, lawsuits, mugshots, embarrassing photos, or other negative content can harm your reputation and be some of the first things people see when they search for you.
Even without a PR crisis or negative content, search engine algorithms can determine what ranks for you based on over 200 ranking factors. This means that something irrelevant or negative from the past can impact your reputation if it ranks on the first page of search results.
Furthermore, having no online presence can also have an impact on your reputation. If you do not actively manage your reputation online, it will be defined solely by what others say about you. By implementing a personal reputation management strategy, you can have some control over how you are perceived online.
A strong online reputation can lead to more opportunities, greater exposure, and enhanced professional credibility. It is particularly crucial for public figures to manage their personal reputations as negative results can not only harm their own reputation but also negatively impact the reputation of their companies, projects, or other affiliations.
Assessing Your Online Reputation
To effectively manage your personal reputation, you need to understand how you currently appear online. The first step is to Google yourself. By searching your name in an incognito browser, you can see what others would find when they search for you. Consider the following questions:
- Are the search results about you, or do other people with the same name show up as well?
- What is the nature of the search results? Are they generally positive, negative, or neutral?
- How many of the search results are owned assets like personal websites, company subpages, blogs, or social media profiles?
- Do any news coverage, such as article features or interviews, appear in the search results?
- Are there images that populate? Are they professional or personal?
- If there are negative results, where do they come from? Publications, personal blogs, or social media posts?
Answering these questions will help you identify your current reputation’s weak points and provide guidance on where to start with your personal reputation management strategy. Make a list of short-term and long-term goals based on your initial audit. Short-term goals can include securing relevant social media profiles or claiming your Google Knowledge Panel, while long-term goals can involve building a personal website, starting a blog, or securing media opportunities.
How to Manage Your Personal Reputation
If you are ready to take control of your online reputation, here are ten steps you can take to establish and maintain a positive online presence:
Define Your Personal Brand: Determine how you want to be perceived online by defining your personal brand. Your personal brand should be authentic and aspirational, reflecting your accomplishments and goals. Research major players in your industry to gain insights into how they present themselves online and identify elements that can help you stand out.
Claim and Maintain Your Social Media Profiles: Social media is a powerful tool for building an online presence. Start by creating a LinkedIn profile if you don’t have one already. LinkedIn ranks well in search results and allows you to connect with professionals in your industry. Secure usernames on other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, even if you’re not ready to actively use them yet. Inactive accounts can harm your online reputation, so set them to private until you are ready to execute a social media strategy.
Create a Personal Website: A personal website serves as a virtual business card and allows you to showcase your background, accomplishments, media coverage, and interests. Choose a simple and logical domain name, ideally using just your name. If that’s not available, select a domain name that includes your name and clearly identifies it as your website. Your website can range from a simple one-page site with an about section and resume to a more comprehensive site with a portfolio, blog, and media features.
Delete Irrelevant Content: If you have old profiles or accounts attached to your name that no longer represent you, consider deleting them. Old content or pictures that you don’t want associated with your online image can be removed or set to private. Cleaning up irrelevant content will help present a more up-to-date and professional online image.
Separate the Personal and Professional: Determine what is considered professional in your industry and set boundaries between your personal and professional online presence. Make your personal social media accounts private and consider creating separate accounts for professional use. Be mindful of what you share online, as it can be visible to a wider audience who may form opinions based on your posts.
Maintain Your Privacy: While sharing relevant information about your work can be valuable online, it’s essential to maintain your privacy. Not everything needs to be shared, and it’s okay to keep certain aspects of your life private. Consider whether you would be comfortable with a stranger knowing certain information about you. Once something is shared online, it can be challenging to completely remove it, so exercise caution when sharing personal details.
Enhance Your Image: High-quality images can significantly impact your online reputation. Replace less-than-ideal images of yourself with new, professional ones. Having a variety of different images on different platforms can help redefine your online image. Google prefers recent and high-quality images, so having several of them available can contribute to a more positive online presence.
Seek Content Opportunities: Content creation is crucial for personal reputation management. Consider starting a blog or YouTube channel if you have the time and interest. Creating relevant content can increase your reach, build credibility, and establish you as a thought leader in your industry. If maintaining a blog or YouTube channel is not feasible, seek out opportunities for earned media, such as interviews, article features, and podcast guest spots. Engaging in conversations and collaborations with creators in your industry can also help create positive content about yourself online.
Stay Up-To-Date on Relevant Conversations: Monitoring online conversations that are relevant to you can help you stay aware of your reputation and respond appropriately. Set up Google Alerts and use other monitoring tools to ensure you don’t miss any discussions about you. Stay informed about trends and conversations in your industry to avoid appearing tone-deaf and maintain a current understanding of the topics that matter to your audience.
Seek Professional Help When Needed: Managing your personal reputation can be challenging, especially if you are starting from scratch or dealing with a reputation crisis. If you find it difficult to allocate time for your online presence or need assistance with reputation management, consider reaching out to a reputable reputation management firm. They can assess your specific needs and create a customized strategy to improve your personal reputation.
In conclusion, personal reputation management is vital in 2023 due to the increasing number of people online and the reliance on search engines to learn more about individuals. Failing to manage your personal reputation can have tangible consequences, both personally and professionally. By establishing a strong online presence, defining your personal brand, and implementing effective reputation management strategies, you can control how you are perceived online, seize more opportunities, and build a credible and positive reputation.