There was once a time when your real-world self and your online persona could be completely different. You could be Dr. Jekyll, mild-mannered and thoughtful, to your co-workers and friends, and then go home at night and be Mr. Hyde, the snarky and somewhat raunchy celebrity blogger. Today, as our digital and real-world lives come closer together, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more, it’s harder to be two different people and time to start thinking about how to manage your reputation, both online and off.
Although you might not think about it, you have a personal brand whether you like it or not. And if you are trying to sell yourself to potential employers, clients, or a certain online community, you need to be recognizable and accessible across multiple platforms. All it takes is for one person to bad-mouth you online (or someone who shares your name to do something foolish) for anyone searching for you to get the wrong impression. In essence, you need to take control of your personal brand before someone else does.
1) Form Your Strategy
Before your take control of your personal brand, you have to decide how you want to brand yourself. Think about what you do, what you want to be known for, what kind of people you want to appeal to, and your overall personal and professional goals. Do you want to be Jekyll or Hyde? When you figure out these aspects, it will be much easier to create your social media profiles, personal websites, and personal brand image overall
2) Create a Hub
With so many options available, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of tweets, posts, updates, and RSS feeds. So you need to create a personal hub that can be your home base, a place that all the rest of your posts, tweets, and other messaging can originate from. A good place to start is About.me, where you can create a splash page for yourself that includes a brief description of who you are and what you are about, along with a picture, and links to your other social media accounts and websites.
Another great place to start is with a personally branded website or blog where you can post information about yourself as well as content about what you do and your ongoing relationship with the community you are a part of.
3) Social Media is Only a Publisher
Once you’ve established your hub, then you can use your social media profiles as publishing arms that help you share the content from your hub to your friends, followers, and business associates. Tools like Tweetdeck, Seesmic, and any number of WordPress plugins can help you keep your posts and updates consistent across various social media platforms.
4) Define Your Boundaries
In today’s “share everything” culture, it can be easy to get caught up in the social media sharing cycle, feeling like you need to post a new item every 10 minutes. So, before you start, sit down and define where your online persona will end and where your real life will begin. In other words, set some privacy boundaries so you don’t overshare. Will you talk about your family? Will you share your location? Do you want to keep it strictly professional? The answers to these questions are up to you and will rely heavily on your individual goals and the persona you want to create.
5) Stay Focused
When you are trying to take hold of your online reputation management, one of the worst things you can do is present a myriad of different personas through various sites and social media platforms. One of the keys to building and maintaining a personal brand is to stay focused and be consistent. Set boundaries and goals, and stick to them. If you feel like you need to change the way you are presenting yourself, define a new strategy and set new goals before you start to wander. When you are consistent and focused, you’ll create a sense of confidence and build a good reputation that can easily be found by anyone.
If you want to take control of your online reputation management, and stop playing Jekyll and Hyde, start today by defining a strategy, creating a hub, and focusing on your objectives to create a good reputation for yourself.