Simply put, you are a brand. Whether you’re an employee, an entrepreneur or a student you have a digital footprint and that footprint reflects you, your business and your employ-ability. It’s unfortunate, but the idea of privacy is a thing of the past; not because we are being watched or hacked 24/7, but because your online perception heavily reflects how people view you in reality. It is for this reason that owning your digital footprint is important and here are a few key tips on how to do so…
- Do an audit. Start with search. This means google searches and keywords related to you. (Tip: Use an incognito window or a cookie free browser to avoid targeted search results or do the search on a public computer). Record the results, flag all relevant hits (good AND bad). This will give you a strong idea of the landscape and which targets you should focus on first.
- Clean up you social. We all did a few things we regret in college, and if you went to college in the early days of social media you probably didn’t think much of it, but those inappropriate pictures of you doing keg stands or tweeting nonsense don’t set a good tone when found by a potential employer, and they look!
- Create profiles. Social Media plays a huge role in search results. Google now weighs social as a top SEO target and for that reason it is important to build as many social profiles as possible, LinkedIn being a top tier SEO target. A few examples of outside the box social would be: about.me, brandyourself.com, Quora, Tumblr and a blog.
NOTE: Owning the URL to your name is a huge perk. If you have a common name look for alternatives. Ex. JohnSmithMarketing.com or JaneSmithFinance.com
- Google Alerts. Google Alerts is a very underutilized tool that many people don’t know about. I have Google Alerts set up for my name, my company, areas of interest, etc. Google Alerts is a tool that will send you a daily/weekly email, depending on your settings, that shows you all new search results pertaining to that keyword.
- Compile the Data. Make note of all relevant social profiles that you’ve created… because they will start to show up on the first page of search results! I prefer to keep a spreadsheet with all the URLs, logins, passwords and any relevant notes. This assures that if something changes or your career pivots you can pivot your brand with it.
The internet and social media have made a “small world” even smaller. It is important that you control the narrative being written about you and these are the first steps to doing so!