Why should you build an online presence?Because the risk of not having a strong and consistent identity is growing every day.
The risks are multiple and concern pretty much everyone. Especially for the younger generations, but increasingly a reflex for all alike, people will google you before meeting you. This is true for recruitments, new clients, new suppliers, new partners and more. Your online presence, as I have written in the past (See Your CV online), will in the future not be limited to your linkedin profile, etc., but be represented by the quality of your content, your participation and/or publications on reference sites.
I like to categorize the risks for your eReputation into three major areas:
- you have no presence. The risk is that the people who look for you will find nothing and could make one of three negative generalizations: you are not significant, you are not a web-friendly person, or you may have something to hide. Naturally, these may not be accurate, but the first impression could be such. If you are super wealthy and discrete, you might indeed seek to have no presence. But, even for such a profile, there is an incentive to work your presence in advance of risk #3 below.
- you have a presence, but no one can find you. Here, despite being on certain well known social networks, you might have a name that is possibly relatively common or you just have a relatively weak, diffuse presence.
- you have a presence, but it is not at all the one you want. This can go from unflattering to downright unfortunate. Depending on the popularity of the site on which the text, image or video sits, the material can be more or less difficult to deal with.
How to strengthen your eReputation?
A first word of warning: it is impossible to control or mastermind the end results and it does take time. Herewith, some topline guidelines to chart out how to boost your online presence. There are five general steps.
- Objectives. The first point is to establish what is it that you would like to appear about you? And, to gauge the level of investment (in time, much less money), you will also want to establish just how badly you want to have the “right” information appear above the other material (text, photo & video).
- Social Media. As a first easy step, you ought to strengthen your profile in the various professional/social networks: Linkedin/Viadeo/Xing, Facebook, Twitter… with a key image and well crafted bio. This means coming up with a key phrase to describe you in the way you would like to appear. Each network has its parameters and protocols, but with a little work, you can easily improve your position. Another great site on which to create your personal profile is about.me, where you can “curate” the content and present the profiles you would like to feature. It goes without needing emphasis, that one should be careful about what one puts up on social media sites — always making sure to verify the settings.
- Text. On the text side, I suggest that you come up with the key words that you would like to appear with you name, specifically targeting your area of expertise. The technical purpose of this is to make sure of the appropriate tagging. It’s a good exercise as it also serves to be precise in your purpose. Secondly, you will need to draft up some desirable copy, typically in the form of a Press Release. Ideally, you should be talking about fresh material. Any publications, writings… With these in hand, then you need to populate specific portals.
- Image. You will need to define the key photo you would like to feature. I suggest taking a professional shot and then you use this same photo across all the platforms you can… The more traffic there is on a social network (e.g. Facebook), the greater the chance that your photo will then rise to the surface associated with your name – thinking specifically how people look for you…
- Video. The video is the last of the three tabs (along with text & photo) on Google with which you need to concern yourself. It is generally not the priority, but it surely will become more important considering the facility with which video is created. If your name is not associated with any videos, the opportunity is to create — even innovate — via a well thought out and produced video.
As you set out to improve your online presence, you probably want someone to guide you through these various steps. It requires a combination of content creation (by you), eReputation management and Search Engine Optimization (a technical term, but that plays an integral part). Managing your eReputation is an ongoing process that definitely takes thought and time. But the key notion is to take care of your online presence proactively, to build the presence that suits you and to avoid an embarrassment that is waiting around the corner.
I welcome your thoughts!