Your digital footprint is everything that shows up when people search for you online. From images to comments and blog posts, this collective first impression can make or break your online and sometimes offline reputation.
Without further a-doo check out my top 5 tips for making sure your online presence reflects well on your business.
Tip 1 – Check Your Facebook Privacy Settings
If you use your personal Facebook profile to promote your business, (not that I’m saying that you should or shouldn’t or that I do this!) things from your personal life can become public very quickly. To maintain your privacy, it’s important to have your Facebook account postings set to “friends only”.
You may think that your account is already on lockdown, but Facebook privacy settings change often. Your aim it to let people that you are friends with on Facebook to see your stuff, not the general public.
Specify the audience for future posts
As the default, all Facebook posts (and mostly here from mobile devices) are set to Public, so before delving into the past, make sure you privacy-proof your future.
In the privacy settings of your Facebook profile, you can edit the Who can see my stuff? section to choose who’ll see your posts. The choices are Public, Friends, Only Me or Custom.
These settings can help you avoid making privacy blunders in the future.
For extreme privacy, the best choice is Friends. The activity log lets you edit the privacy and visibility of any action that you’ve ever made with your Facebook account.
Here’s how your actions look in the activity log:
To open your activity log, click on the drop down arrow (top right corner of Facebook) and Activity Log.
As you review your actions, use the two drop-down options in each post to change its privacy and visibility settings.
Edit the privacy and visibility settings of any action in your activity log.
It’s a drawn-out process, but well worth the time to know unwanted information isn’t available on the Internet.
Change privacy settings of past posts
Facebook has also made it easier to change the privacy settings of your past posts without using activity log >> In Privacy Settings, choose Limit the Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline to Now, and edit them all with one click of your mouse.
For a much quicker resolution of your privacy problems, this feature is key.
Take advantage of the tools Facebook has in place to help you present a professional identity.
Tip 2 – (Deep breath! and…) Google Search Yourself
Most of us don’t know everything that’s published about us online. In addition to the content we publish, friends and colleagues sometimes share about us, too.
Are you sure everything out there is appropriate?
A picture can speak a thousand words, so make sure you search for text and pictures.
If you find something that could damage your reputation, take steps to have it removed. This is an easy fix if you know the person who’s responsible for posting it. Ask them to take it down immediately. However, if the content is on a site hosted by someone you don’t know, contact the site owner or administrator with a request to remove it.
There are tools within Google’s own webmaster tools and the like, that if you have contacted a site a couple of times to ask for content on yourself to be removed, and they haven’t (and you have proof that you have done this and chased this) then they can look to take content down. I don’t think this is an easy option but it’s there.
Deleted material may still appear in search results for a short time, but will disappear as Google updates its search results (usually 2 weeks).
The first thing potential clients will do when researching is Google you, so make sure you have nothing to hide.
Make a self-search part of your regular reputation management and it’s easy to stay on top of where and how you’re mentioned online. You never know – You might be able to use positive things you find to promote yourself!
Tip 3 – Revise Your Personal Blog
While you’re well-versed in presenting a professional appearance on your business blog, you need to remember that private blogs show up in search engine results, too.
If you have a personal blog you use to vent frustrations and make personal observations, go through your posts to edit them for language and delete anything that will hinder you professionally.
Make sure ANY blog posts are put in front of potential clients for all the right reasons.
Tip 4 – Delete Abandoned Social Media Accounts
We all grow up, but that doesn’t mean clients need to see the awkwardness. If you still have a MySpace (cringe!) or Bebo account lingering around, it’s high time to delete it.
Note that old MySpace stuff is linked to Hotmail accounts, so embarrassing profile pics etc are lurking! Here’s me haha!
The high-angle MySpace selfies and teen-angsty blog posts were great for high school but won’t do much for your business if they’re found by the wrong people.
I also found this profile of myself on an old Friends forum : )
Don’t let old social media accounts embarrass you with clients.
Delete dormant profiles on neglected social media networks to show yourself as a professional.
Tip 5 – Think Before You Post
Finally, when you’re about to post an angry status or emotional tweet, make sure you’d be happy if a client saw your post and formed an opinion of you based on it.
Also remember that LinkedIn tends to come up first in a personal search engine query, so keep your LinkedIn profile strictly professional.
Don’t publish offensive or incriminating posts. Share interesting information that paints you in an attractive light to potential clients and you’ll increase the chances of contact with them.
Clients and suppliers will form an opinion of you from browsing the first page of Google search results. Use the tips in this article to ensure that everything that could possibly be found about you online is respectable and professional.