Online reputation is a popular topic of conversation in business circles these days. It has been said for generations that you never get a second chance at a first impression. Historically that first impression could be crafted through writing, personal references and the reputation developed over time in a community. With alarming subtlety the Internet now delivers the first impression whether you want it or not. We live in a world in which privacy can easily be compromised by content readily available on the Internet. Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware of the types of information people are discovering about them.

Searchable information isn’t limited to blog posts, comments, or pictures someone may post about you. Certain documents, under public information laws, are available online through government sources at local, state, and federal levels. One simple online search can deliver this information to potential employers or clients, materially impacting your ability to earn a living or succeed in business.

Of course, more common types of posted information can be just as damaging to an online reputation as well. The Internet is an open forum, on which anyone can post anything about anyone, with little recourse. This may include content from a mildly bad review to outright slander. Whether this information is true or not is irrelevant. The person perusing search results will likely take in this information and allow it to color his or her opinion­–impacting the victim’s online reputation permanently.

Interestingly, many are their own worst enemies when it comes to online reputation. Posting compromising photos or unflattering comments on social media sites coupled with careless review of security settings can have a lasting impact on your online reputation, with much of this information available for prominent inclusion in search engine results.

Additionally, social media users often do not realize just how much of their own online reputation is susceptible to marketing efforts. Photos, locations provided by active GPS information and status updates are now being used by marketers, with buyers’ shopping habits monitored and redisplayed to them in advertisements. Because of this, many persons are experiencing privacy violations on an almost daily basis.

Privacy is another reason it’s critical to control your online reputation. When someone proactively takes control of his or her online reputation, he or she is able to decide what information is publicly revealed. Once search engine results fill with information a company or individual has personally posted, that person is now in control, able to update information as it changes and remove information once it is no longer relevant.

Online reputation management firms like 3Ci advise clients to create a positive presence across a variety of social media sites and on their own websites and blogs. This delivers information those searching are most interested in finding when they initiate a search, while giving the client the closest thing to public online reputation control they can have.

A deliberate approach, a well constructed strategy, quality content and patience can combine to provide anyone with online search results that present an honest, transparent and truthful online reputation. We encourage you to speak to a professional at 3Ci as you consider how best to present the online “public” you.

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