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Google yourself. What do you see? Are you represented fairly?
Everyone has an online reputation. The only question is do you have a say in yours?
Online reputation management (ORM) means taking control of the online conversation. Its techniques and strategies ensure that people find the right materials when they look for you on the Internet.
The purpose of online reputation management is to create balance, counteract misleading trends, and allow you to put your best foot forward.
Two cycles of online reputation
Vicious Cycle: Ignore your online reputation and you risk falling victim to a vicious cycle of misinformation and rumors.
Virtuous Cycle: Take care of your online reputation and you create a virtuous cycle of positive, quality materials that reflect well on you.
Why you should care about your online reputation
Online reputation is becoming so pervasive, it’s almost time to drop the word “online”
The Internet is our first stop for everything
Not only do people view the Internet as their first source of information, but they also trust what it tells them. More importantly, they make decisions based on what they find online.
Two out of three people see the Internet as the most reliable source of information about a person or a business (Edelman Insights)
70% of hiring managers have rejected a candidate because of something they found online (Cross-Tab)
When looking for a local business, 97% of people read online reviews (BIA Kelsey)
Over 80% of reputation damage comes from a mismatch between the buzz and the reality (Digimind)
Looking at statistics like these, it’s clear that what happens online affects your entire life.
Online and offline are blending
With each passing day, the online world becomes more and more enmeshed with the rest of our activities. From smartphones to smart TVs, from the “Internet of things” to the self-driving cars of the future—you are living each day increasingly online, even if you never touch a computer.
That means there are more and more ways for you to leave an online mark, positive or negative.
Now, you might not think that people are searching for you, but chances are they are. Common reasons include:
- Employers doing pre-interview research
- Landlords looking into prospective renters
- Children searching for details of their parents’ “real lives”
- Curious significant others, past and present
- Former colleagues looking to share professional opportunities
- College admissions departments evaluating prospective students
- Insurance companies doing risk assessments
- No matter how “under the radar” or “low-tech” your lifestyle, there is a good quantity of information about you online and people are seeing it.
Your online reputation is forever
If someone writes something negative about you online, it can put you at a serious disadvantage over the long term—especially if you’re not aware of it. You might never know why you didn’t get that apartment you wanted, or why a job offer never materialized after that phenomenal interview.
It’s important to keep tabs on what people are saying about you online and then take steps to correct any inaccuracies. (Here are some tips to help you get started.)
For the same reasons, you also need to monitor things that you post yourself. Thanks to social media, even posts from decades earlier can come back to harm you. Consider the following examples, all vastly different:
James Gunn: Lost his position as the director of the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies after some offensive jokes that he tweeted years ago came to light.
Harvard admissions: In 2017, ten college students lost their acceptance to Harvard because of their offensive social media posts.
NASA internship: Twitter user @NaomiH_official had her internship opportunity with NASA revoked because a high-ranking NASA official saw her using profanity on a #NASA-tagged tweet.
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