My initial thoughts are that maintaining a good online reputation is easier for an individual than for an organisation. As Dr Gaines Rosses comments when interviewed by Schawbel (2008) in the Personal Branding blog, reputation is about how others see you. And an individual has much more control over his or her reputation than an organisation has. Hopefully if individuals are careful enough, then managing their reputation should be relatively straightforward. For a company however, with many employers, customers, shareholders, it is potentially much more difficult to keep a check on how people talk about the company and therefore to manage that reputation.
However, even if more straightforward than for a company, there are still a number of steps that I need to take in order to manage my reputation, especially if I want to get on professionally. Making the ‘right’ information available out there could become an important part of the selection process (albeit not explicit) and enhance or jeopardize my chance of getting a particular job. For example, if by googling me, a prospective employer was to find my contributions to the professional world, he or she may be more inclined to employ me that if he had found drunken pictures of me on Facebook.
Kelly is right in that we need to think of ourself as a brand in the online world. This means that if we are to be active on social media sites, then it is important to think about how we would like to be seen, and post and share images and thoughts which are in tune with this image we have of ourselves and how we would like to be seen by others. Whilst I may loose my rag at home and affect only the few people around me, unfortunately doing this online can have much wider and direr consequences. I cannot afford to act on impulse online, and this is something that must be difficult to learn for children for whom the online world is simply an extension of their home life.
I imagine it must also be difficult for very extrovert people or for people with non mainstream personal interests to keep their private and professional selves separate. Thus, a person who likes to party and has many online friends will need to be particularly careful about the boundaries between his or her private and professional lives and will need to go the extra mile in protecting his or her reputation. This may involve creating aliases as suggested by Borders (2010) in this blog post “Setting Up and Safeguarding An Online “Alter Ego” Identity”. Clearly, what is advocated by Borders including using proxy and establishing root e-mail accounts (whatever these may be) is not within everybody’s capabilities, and must involve quite a lot of diligence.
Privacy can no longer be taken for granted and, as people live an ever increasing part of their lives online, taking steps to maintaining a good online reputation is likely to matter more and more. Because, as Benjamin Franklin once said ‘It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it’ (cited in Halpern and Murphy, 2009) .
BORDERS, B. (2010) Setting Up and Safeguarding An Online “Alter Ego” Identity”. Online reputation Edge. Weblog [Online]. Available from: http://onlinereputationedge.com/setting-up-and-safeguarding-an-online-alter-ego-identity [Accessed 17/02/11].
HALPERN, L. and MURPHY, R. (2009) Personal reputation management : making the internet work for you. London: Halpern Cowan.
SCHAWBEL, D. (2008) Monitor Your Online Reputation to Protect Your Personal Brand. Personal Branding Blog. Weblog [Online] 27th September. Available from: http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/monitor-your-online-reputation-to-protect-your-personal-brand/ [Accessed 17/02/11].