Thursday, October 25, 2007

Do's and Don'ts of online reputation management

Christi Eubanks tagged me, so here are my thoughts on student online reputation management:

1. DO recognize that online, personal and professional are the same. What you post on Facebook is equally relevant to a potential employer as what you write in your cover letter.
2. DO be strategic. Make a plan for yourself that involves both learning social media tools and presenting a public face.
3. DO be prepared for people to disagree with or criticize you. As I've written before, participating in the social media space invites criticism. You must defend yourself, be willing to change your mind, or admit that you're wrong.

1. DON'T post something when you're too mad to think it through. I'm not saying you shouldn't be passionate. You should definitely be passionate. You just shouldn't be mean, irrational, or careless of the impact of your words.
2. DON'T be anonymous. You'll put more thought into your words if you own them, and you'll be creating an online portfolio at the same time.
3. DON'T forget to search for your own name and see what comes up. If you don't like the result, do something about it!

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What the so-called “conversations” in the blogosphere often lack is critical thought (i.e., a reasoned argument and objective analysis) by independent thinkers. Believe you me, I’m very impressed by any adult, young or otherwise, who has the guts to say “this bloggy consensus opinion doesn’t make sense to me…what about blah blah blah?”

Writing a comment that is simply a chirpy, “I agree with your post” has the exact opposite effect. If all you are going to do is show consensus to an existing opinion (i.e., not add anything else to the discussion), I'd recommend you not waste the real estate space or eyeballs of the blogger or readers. Instead send the blogger a direct note of appreciation, offline.

I agree with you, Karen, about the DON’T be anonymous. For that matter, don’t be a first-name-only commenter. As per above, do think about what you are going to say and whether or not it will be criticized. Be ready for the criticism. Then come back, again, with a reasoned and balanced response. Plus have the guts to stand behind your opinion and brand it with your full name (first and surname). Some females (not all) are particularly bad about using a first name only. You might as well have not have commented (in my books) if you hide your (unique) opinion behind a name shared by thousands. Think about it: if your surname is uncommon, it’s even better for your online brand in terms of page rank, should organizations, prospective employers or individuals go searching.

I see it happen on PR Conversations sometimes...a great comment is left, but with only a first name attribution. What good is that? I don't even know what country he or she is from, which is actually of great interest, considering the international scope and reach of our collective blog.

Great post, Karen. (Because I attempted to add to your conversation, I've allowed myself to give you a thumbs-up, too.)

Judy Gombita
Judy, GREAT addition. When I've assigned students to comment on blogs, I tell them their contribution must advance the conversation: ask a question, offer a different point of view, point to another, related post or conversation. Plain old "I agree" is nice, but you're right -- it's more appropriate offline.

Make it two thumbs up. ;-)
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