Let’s face it, the world has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Can you even remember a time when you went an entire day (let alone an hour) without checking your phone? Or one of your social media platforms? As we navigate the digital age, it’s important to remember that in addition to face-to-face contact with people, and interactions with brick and mortar businesses, we’re also interacting and building a reputation online.
In fact, have you Googled yourself lately? You might be surprised with what you find.
All tweets, every status update and even photos taken at public events are fodder for your online reputation. So is everything that others write and post about you, too.
It’s important to remember that how you are perceived by others is often first affected by your online presence. Consider the blind date your best friend is setting you up with or the company that will be interviewing you next week. Chances are, they’re checking you out online before you meet face to face.
Here are eight things you can do right now to improve and enhance your online presence:
- Google Yourself – if you’ve never done this, check it out. You may find it fascinating – or appalling – depending on what comes up on the first page of search. (Remember that wild party at your roommate’s parents’ house your senior year in college? Yep, she’s posted pics on her Facebook page and tagged you). You probably can’t change these results right away, but it’s important to know what others are seeing when they search for you.
- Use the same avatar across all social media platforms – people will make up their minds about you whether you’re there in person or not. Everything they see and read affects their perception of you. Make sure you’re consistent and presenting yourself in a way that you want to be known and remembered.
- Create interesting bios and profiles – as above, this will allow you to plant seeds in the minds of those reading. This isn’t the place to write a boring old resume – it’s an opportunity to share some of your passions, interests and work. People have an affinity for those they share something in common with, so don’t be afraid to pull back the curtain a little bit and let your freak flag fly.
- Don’t drink and post. That’s right, don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your mother or your ex-boyfriend to see. Many social media posts are archived in the Library of Congress, so once you hit Enter, it’s out there forever.
- Don’t be a narcissist. Seriously, enough about you already. Stop broadcasting your your every move and start listening to what others are saying. Then engage. Just because it’s virtual, doesn’t mean it isn’t a real conversation with a real human being on the other end. Same goes for those posting about business offerings all the time. First, you’re boring us, and second, the only way we’ll really connect with you is if you show us your personality and heart. Share your interests and passions so we can find common ground.
- Don’t connect Twitter to Facebook. This is such a HUGE pet peeve of mine. Two different social media platforms, two different languages. Your Facebook Timeline looks ridiculous with a one-sided conversation and all those @ and # signs. Just stop it. Check out Hootsuite or Buffer instead, and choose which posts go where.
- Keep it simple. If you’re an entrepreneur or small business and have your own website, eliminate extraneous clutter and design. Make sure your navigation is simple and intuitive and limit your calls to action on each page to only two or three at the most. Don’t fill up the pages of your site with text and images – leave some white space so we can breathe.
- Don’t be overly negative. The social space in general is extremely positive, with collaboration, conversation and helpfulness being the order of the day. No one likes complainers and whiners. And don’t forget #4: any vitriol you happen to spew while under the influence or just pissed off, will be out there forever, for all to see. Even your mother-in-law.