If you’ve ever had a dream of being some sort of celebrity, you should be happy to know that there’s very likely a cache of online data about you and your life. Everything from your home address to your contact info to potentially controversial comments you made on a message board or in a social media post a decade ago. If that thought makes you feel a bit paranoid or uncomfortable, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you have something sinister to hide, you just didn’t consider the potential consequences of being young and online. Even if you don’t have any skeletons in your proverbial online closet, wouldn’t you prefer to have some semblance of control over your online presence? Here are some tips on how to retain control of your online persona.
A good place to start is by going on any search engine and looking up your name. Try various combinations including your full name, any nicknames, your current name, the city you currently live in (as well as any you lived in previously), and prior jobs/companies. Sift through all the results including “news” and “images” for anything familiar. You might be surprised to find yourself on some social media account you thought was long-deactivated.
Set up a Google Alert to let you know when and what comes up when your name is searched online. You can also set the alerts to as frequently or infrequently as you like. The goal is to know what’s out there so you can take the appropriate next steps.
Build Your Brand
You have the power to control your online presence by creating your own website or online portfolio. Paying an annual fee to any one of the many web hosting companies out there can ensure that you have the ability to control what your name is tied to. You could include business testimonials, work samples (if appropriate), or even products you’re selling.
Since this is your space online, your best bet is to make it as inoffensive as possible. Keeping it apolitical might be your best choice to avoid alienating or upsetting a portion of your visitors. One worst-case scenario would be getting dragged into an ideological debate with someone online, especially if the whole idea is to craft a positive image for yourself.
In 2019 anyone would be shocked to find someone that still has a Myspace page. Don’t be the person with a Myspace page in 2019. If you scour through Google and find a long-forgotten social media account, it’s probably best that you delete it. You don’t need potential business partners or employers to see what you thought about Twilight a decade ago. That sort of impression can linger and will likely affect interactions with you, whether consciously or subconsciously.
Shut down the accounts for good, either by manually logging in or by contacting site administrators. If you’re the nostalgic type, be sure to save your favourite pictures first.
Social Media II
By the same token, you should take the time to be the architect of your current social media platforms. Use LinkedIn as an expanded portfolio and C.V. or build up a Vero page with your favourite art pieces and network with other artists. In addition to your professional social media, you should consider writing a blog on topics that you’re passionate about, including your career. It can attract likeminded individuals and could potentially open new doors and career opportunities.
Alex Correa | Senior Writer