Managing Your Online Reputation


In last week’s post I talked about personal branding and mentioned one aspect – Google Searching your name – and how to control what is found. This always reminds me of the old “geek joke”:

Where do you hide a dead body? 

On the third page of Google search results!

We know that search engines are only one element of managing your online reputation as a whole, with social media adding a host of additional issues. I won’t insult your intelligence by rehashing the usual problems and solutions article. But a few things have cropped up over the weekend locally that caused me to ponder.

The Twelfth of July in Northern Ireland is contentious to say the least. Tensions ran higher than usual this year and the ease-of-sharing of images on social media meant that a lot of people found their channel for venting personal frustrations. But social media, in particular Facebook, is absolutely the worst channel to use. Not just because their privacy settings are ever-changing and difficult to manage (and may confuse further with the introduction of Facebook Graphs – explained earlier this year by Wayne Denner), but also because many people link their “About Me” information to their employer.

Such people risk falling unexpectedly foul of the Work-Grim-Reaper that is social media. Especially poor Rab here, whose over-zealous racist comments on Facebook may well have lost him his job at FG Wilsons when he returned to work after the Bank Holiday weekend, when fellow commentators rallied against him and a certain Facebook Group that “outs bigots” decided to publicise his comments:

Rab Carson Facebook

Poor Rab wasn’t the only one. But he was one of the few who listed his employer. And Rab has since deleted his Facebook profile and no doubt tried (probably unsuccessfully due to search engines and the general nature of t’internet) to delete any trace of him completely from the World Wide Web.

Now there is huge debate around these issues and many employers are scrambling together social media policies in an effort to protect their own reputation from the knock-on-corporate effects of personal damage to staff’s reputation. Because clearly it isn’t enough to encourage people to keep their profiles private. Recently Mr Facebook himself, Mark Zuckerberg argued that privacy was no longer a “social norm”. As much as I may disagree with some of his motives, on the whole I have to agree with his message. So where does that leave us PROs? The people that others entrust with their organisational reputations, parting with their precious pounds, but no doubt after they’ve researched our online history!

Most of us “in the biz” may well know how to manipulate our search results, link and manage networking accounts and be very mindful of how we use them. To that end, it’s no surprise that many local industry employers, especially agencies, not only tolerate staff using social media, but they actively encourage it. It’s touching to see them introduce their new employees virtually on Twitter and encourage us to follow them.

But when I read backwards a few months on a certain new PROs tweet timeline, I did wonder if his employer had done the same in checking him out, or if they were risking their own Paris Brown moment. Now calling a certain nationality “b*stards” is probably in reference to football, but it could also be misconstrued as a racist slur. With that in mind, I completely refute a recent commentators remark that he didn’t understand “why people still bother to use Twitter if they’re going to use the Protect Tweets function”.

Anyone in this industry, or working at all, with a publicly accessible account would need to be sure they aren’t prone to the odd beer-induced rant. Or they’d need to be an obsessive-tidyer-upper when it comes to their online footprint.

And even then you can’t be sure it’s gone forever.

You have been warned…

One comment

  1. […] I’ve been following Wayne Denner on the social media platform for some time because he talks about issues that are relevant to me, not just as a professional in the modern Communications industry, but as a parent of a small person growing up in a digital world. I’ve never met him but he seems like he knows his stuff. Certainly more than I do, although I’ve blogged about online reputation before here and here. […]

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