Just about everyone nowadays understands how things work online. You don’t post anything that you don’t want shared with the world — that means no sensitive information, photos, videos and use only the most secure sites for money transactions. You also don’t want to post anything you wouldn’t want around years later. This is important because depending on where you post information, it may be open to the public and searchable by Google—and even worse is it may not be erasable. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t need to worry about this because my privacy settings are setup,” then you better think again. According to an article written by Forbes contributor Meghan M. biro, “Still, despite all your precautions, certain info can—and therefore will—be gathered.”
We as individuals put out so much information about ourselves—why wouldn’t a business try to use it? Just like with any relationship, a business wants to make sure that their time and money are being spent smartly; that ultimately they’re going to receive some sort of return on their investment. It’s never long before people begin to notice the need for some type of service in the market. Soon enough, start-ups began to pop up that wanted to gather our social media data and convert it into something businesses could use to make decisions.
One example of this might be trying to sell something on eBay. As the article describes, “The buyer looks at your general rep for all transactions you’ve made across the web — Amazon, Etsy [and] Airbnb. In short, you become a composite of all your purchases and sales on the web.” A company that takes it even further called Movenbank helps banks make decisions on their possible customers. Let’s say you’re applying for a bank loan and to help your bank decide they might use Movenbank, which as Meghan Biro describes, “…examines your credit rating, which is based on your past transactions, plus, on average, 8,000 other bits of social data about you to find out you likely future trustworthiness.” A company like Movenbank isn’t looking to find out how many likes you’ve received on Facebook, they’re looking to find information that is more concrete and “honest”— information from sites such as eBay
Just as I’ve said before, your information is being gathered and used whether you like it or not. But it doesn’t just stop there, companies are finding out more ways to get useful information out of your online presence. As Meghan explains, “Your ‘whole person’ is key, not primarily your credit rating. Your banker, prospective employers, and others will know important things about you: your sense of responsibility, your determination, your competence, [and] your place in the community.” So then just as the title says, your online reputation really can affect your chances of getting a job and even that mortgage you just applied for.
With that said, it’s really not that hard to protect yourself—you just have to be proactive and conscious about everything you do online. Even though you probably don’t think of yourself as a business, in this situation you’re so similar that it would probably help if you did. In the article, “4 Tips to Manage Your Online Reputation,” Ty Kiisel talks about the similarities and offers some useful information.
The first tip he provides is that, yes, everything affects your online reputation. Ty writes, “…try not to say or do anything on social media that would poorly reflect on [your] personal brand.” There are simple things everyone can do, such as demand that sites safeguard your information and provide choices on how your information is used. Eventually if enough people request it, these sites are going to have to do something. Secondly, he talks about arguing online and the consequences. He compared arguing online to, “…shouting at your neighbor standing in the middle of the cul-de-sac. Everyone can hear you and you look like an idiot.” That’s pretty much the gist of it because no matter if you win or lose the argument — you’re still going to hurt your brand. No matter what the topic of conversation is or how passionate you feel about it, try to deal with it in a considerate way. Or you could always avoid it completely. Lastly, he, too, mentions the fact that information online can stay around a long time after it’s been posted. He writes, “Remember that what happens online stays online: This isn’t the same as what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…”
All you have to do is think of yourself as a brand and you can’t go wrong, you’ll be just as successful as any business out there. Ty finishes off the article by saying, “…before you jump in with both feet you should take the time to look strategically at what you’re doing and why.” There are many more ways to manage your online reputation but by focusing on these things discussed here you’ll be in good shape.