Managing Your Rep Online

December 28, 2007

Managing Your Rep Online

search-engine-marketing.jpgThere has been much media coverage about the Pew Internet and American Life Project research (12.16.07) on Americans googling themselves for what I call reptuation checkups. I felt that I could not ignore it since it falls into what I also call my reputation bucket (all things reputation-related).  Afterall, your “good name” is all we have.
Pew found that nearly one-half (47 percent) of Americans have searched for their own names to see whether they were receiving a thumbs up or thumbs down. This name-searching figure has dramatically doubled since 2002 when Pew found only 22 percent targeting themselves online.  I can’t say I blame them. I have searched my own name several times since reputation is my middle name (just kidding).  Interestingly, most Americans don’t search for their names online on a regular basis. Apparently they are not worried about what might be said about them. This bears out in the research — the majority (six out of ten Americans) are not worried about how much information is available about them online. I assume they believe they can manage their reputations well enough. Probably a mistake as privacy gets increasingly scarce.

Interesting tidbits in the Pew report include:

  • Only 4 percent found disturbing or inaccurate information online associated with their name
  • Most searches are innocuous — looking for someone’s contact info
  • Those under 50 were more likely to be interested in their online reputations

As one of the co-author’s wrote: “Nostalgia seems to motivate quite a few Internet users. the most popular search target is someone from the past — an old friend, an old flame, or a former colleague.”

I imagine that name-searching is much higher among business executives who depend on their reputations for career opportunities and advancement and enhancing their own company reputations.  My guess is that the figure would be closer to 85 percent  vs. the 47 percent Pew found.  Either way, reputation checkups are important and will probably soar when Pew does its next research in 2012 (five years from now!).

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

  • Michael Allison
    Posted at 18:47h, 28 December Reply

    I wonder if those Googling themselves are more-likely to have a presence online than those who don’t.Although more of our lives are playing out or being presented online, there might be a fair share of people who are still anonymous or who aren’t engaged enough to leave any substantial reputational impressions. It might not make sense to them to do a search.

    From the looks of it though, the numbers will continue to rise.

  • Leslie Gaines-Ross
    Posted at 00:32h, 17 January Reply

    I am sure you are right about that. If you suspect there is nothing to find, a person would be less likely to look. However, it makes 100% sense to see. A former colleague who did not expect much online about her googled herself and found information on her application for a green card at the top of the list. That was not pleasant.

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