In the Internet Marketing industry, we all have to consider both our personal brands and our professional brands. A handful of notable people have had to change their Twitter names to reflect job loss – statusgirl/melanienathan comes to mind first. We’re out there, promoting our accomplishments and those of our employers, in the big, wide world of social media. But who is benefiting from the reputations we build for ourselves? Are we building our own personal brand, or just that of the company we work for? Identity lines are blurry, and there are some steps that everyone should take to protect their own identity – their personal brand – when getting involved online.
A lot of people in the industry had some helpful tips for protecting your personal brand. They were kind enough to tweet me their advice.
Steve Vandergriff of Redline Creative Media: People are getting more search-savvy; IMO you should focus more on yourself and your expertise, and less about who you do it for.
Christina says: Excellent advice! When you focus on your own accomplishments, your employer benefits from the fact that you work for them, and you don’t lose out if/when that work relationship ends.
Andy Beal of Trackur: Make sure you fill the Google void. In the absence of any content created by you, Google will fill its results with third-party content it discovers. The danger? Google is sentiment-neutral–it doesn’t care that it just ruined your reputation by including a negative web page in its SERP.
Christina says: Have you Googled yourself lately? You may be surprised.
Michael Gray of Atlas Web Service: You need to have a plan to protect your name/reputation before something bad happens, not after. Don’t be afraid to control negative press with a PPC campaign to a landing page.
Christina says: You can’t be too careful!
A. Ryan Robbins of ycopfiles.com: Set your own boundaries before you 1st start, only post things you are ok with your mom reading, respect your IRL friends’ rights to privacy too. Remember, once posted, never forgotten (Google).
Christina says: The Internet has a memory that doesn’t fail. It can be tricky to remember that sometimes.
Since I’m no expert at online relationship management, it was great to get some advice from those who are. So what can we take away from this?
- Set up your personal and professional profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Use an email address that belongs to you, not your employer. Don’t use your company name in your ID, unless required to do so. You can be a representative of your company without giving them complete control of your online identity.
- Google yourself. Is there a SERP void you need to plug up? Or worse, is there something negative floating about that needs to be addressed? You’ve got work to do.
- When you leave blog comments, leave a personal URL instead of a company URL. If you don’t have your own Web site (why not?) you can always link to one of your social media profiles, the one you update the most.
- Watch what you say. Much like drunk dialing, you can’t take back something blogged or tweeted in anger. Your tweets will still show up in Twitter search, and the Google cache lives on.
- When in doubt, ask a friend. A simple “Is this a bad idea?” could be the 5 seconds that make a difference between a good decision or something you’ll regret.
The next time you leave a blog comment – you know, maybe to add your own tip on this post – are you giving yourself the credit for it, or are you giving your employer an endorsement you can’t take back if you ever part ways? Your reputation and personal brand are at stake!