A few days ago we had an interesting conversation on Facebook discussing what you should do (digitally-wise) once your baby is born. It started from this meme:
… and developed into us sharing what we (might) do to make our kid’s future career easier. The Internet has changed our personal careers paths dramatically: Most employees look for prospective interviewees’ web records even before setting up the actual meeting.
So can we help our kids with their personal reputation management?
One of the most obvious things to do once your spouse and you agree on the baby’s name is to register the exact-match domain (if possible) for your kid not to have to worry about it when he/she grows up.
But really how crazy should you go about securing your kid’s digital future?
Well, personal reputation management is huge nowadays, and conversely so is identity hijacking. If we can in any way help our children to own their online identities, why not?
After all, you have two obvious choices:
- Make sure your kid has a very wide-spread common first and last name (In this case, you don’t have to worry about your kid’s online reputation: There are hundreds of people sharing the same search results page) OR
- Make sure your kid’s name is more or less unique and when he / she grows up, they will be easy to get found in whatever search engine we are going to use then.
In the latter case, securing important domains and usernames may be a good idea actually.
Helping your kids control their web identities may be crucial for their future. Dan Gillmor has put it very well:
[We] are partly who others say we are. That’s a key reason why each of us needs to be one of the voices (preferably the most prominent) defining us. To the extent that they live public lives in any way – and like it or not, it’s getting harder not to be public in some way – tomorrow’s adults will need an online home that they control. They need an online home, a place where they tell the world who they are and what they’ve done, where they post their own work, or at least some of it.
What to Register
A domain is an investment and when you deal with kids, this investment is for at least 10-15 years to come.
Domains are not expensive nowadays but seriously, there’s no way you can register ALL of the variations. There are lots of them! And the list is going to be growing.
So which one to secure?
I suggest going with .com
I have no idea what the Internet is going to be in 15 years but I think .com domains will remain as common and popular as they are now or were 5 years ago.
If there is any other top level domains that fit particularly well, why not consider them as well. I’d register ann.smarty once .smarty becomes a top level domain, for example.
What to Do with That Domain
Keeping it registered is already very thoughtful of you but we know that sites are more valuable than domains.
There’s no reason to keep your kid’s domain stagnant. Installing WordPress and keeping it hosted is easy and cheap. Here’s one of the easiest guides on starting a simple blog: Your kid’s blog is just a couple of steps away.
Updating a blog is easy, you can even do it via email: So you can simply use it to collect photos and memories (Like that email address idea we started from. The difference is that hosting everything on your own sites means you actually own the collection).
What Else to Secure?
Owning your domain name is only one step. Today’s digital identity is spread across multiple social media platforms – owning all of those is also essential to better control your child’s identity.
Do we know which ones are there to stay in 10 or more years?
Will there be Twitter? – Hopefully yes!
Will there be Facebook? – It seems so…
Will there be Google Plus? – I wouldn’t count on that…
Will there be new ones? – Absolutely yes…
How to keep track of emerging social media platforms to register your kid’s name there?
Knowem has a cool service that lets you register your name on all imaginable social media platforms to secure them for your child. They also offer a subscription service that will continue to secure your name on 20 new and emerging social networks every month, so you never miss out on any new ones:
Have you ever thought about securing your children’s digital future? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
<Cue cheesy announcer voice>
Tired of having to spam blogs, write nasty comments on forums and get repetitive stress injuries just to ruin someone you don’t like?
What if you could run a smear campaign against your competitors, slandering them in front of millions of people per hour?
Well, good news, kids! Now, thanks to Google, you can do it in seconds!
Yep, it’s Google real-time search. If you want to chop up someone’s reputation, Google’s new ‘cutting edge’ (hah, get it!) technology will slice, dice, frappe and otherwise grind it into pulp.
</End cheesy announcer voice>
I wish I was exaggerating. But Google real time search will be the biggest online reputation management (ORM) nightmare of 2010. They make it so damned easy.
I’m going to show you how it works. This isn’t earth shattering. All the bad people out there have figured it out. But you need to know so you can defend yourself (somehow):
1. Find a trend
First, go to http://www.google.com/trends
Pick a top-10 trending topic. Those topics are sure to have real-time search results. You can double-check. Just go to Google and search for the trending phrase. Look for the ‘latest results for…’ and your keyword. If it’s there, you have a winner:
OK. Now you have the territory staked out. Time to do some damage.
2. Commence abuse
Now it’s time to have some fun. Go to Twitter (if you don’t have a Twitter account, you’ll need to set one up). Type in the message of your choice:
3. Watch the results
Go back to Google and watch the real time results. In a short time, you’ll see your message show up:
That’s it. Do this consistently for a little while and you can create an online reputation management disaster.
You do. No one gives a flying crap about me, so I can beat myself up in social media all I want. You’re different. If you:
- Sell a product;
- Offer a service;
- Look for a job;
- Are a public servant;
- Or otherwise matter in the universe…
…I guarantee folks search your name and check on you before they call. And it only takes one negative listing in the search results to drive away customers. I’ve seen it time and again. If you and a competitor appear identical to a consumer, but you have one negative comment and they don’t, you’ll lose every time.
What to do
Remember that big kid that used to slap you silly at the bus stop? Bet your dad said something helpful like “ignore him and he’ll go away”. Didn’t work for me either. You can’t stop assholes from slandering you via real time search. You can make sure they do little or no damage:
- Take ownership of your brand name on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
- Monitor what people are saying about you. Get a report at least once a day (hourly is better).
- Make checking that report part of your normal routine.
Last, and possibly most important: Network with others online. The bigger your network, the more people you have to help you stand up to the bully.
I wish I knew…
…What the brainiacs at Google were thinking when they came up with their real time search model. Hopefully, they’ll fix the algorithm and make it harder to abuse the system. For now, though, your best bet is to think like a bully, keep an eye on the conversations that are going on out there, and know when someone’s abusing you.
Ian Lurie is the CEO of Portent Interactive, and writes the internet marketing blog Conversation Marketing. He’s been an internet marketer since 1995. Recent calculations show he’s had over 30,000 hours experience in the field. Which may explain his tendency to rant like a lunatic. He’s co-author of the Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and author of the book Conversation Marketing. When permitted he rants and raves about internet marketing at various conferences, and attempts to use his powers of sarcasm for good.
Whether you’re ready to embrace it or not, social media is changing the way we communicate and make decisions. Today’s technology has impacted our daily lives and routines in a big way. If you don’t wake up to Facebook, you probably know someone who does. And good luck trying to escape the world of Twitter – it’s even invaded the nightly news.
If you aren’t participating in these sites, it’s easy to feel left out or alone. You may even proudly proclaim that you get more done without social networks and that strangers don’t need to know what you ate for breakfast. The problem is, if you’re an executive, a public figure or just Joe Schmoe looking for a job, you need an online presence. If I Google your name and find nothing but your qualifying time for a 5k and your Classmates.com listing, that doesn’t help me make a more informed decision about whether to hire you or your services. You need to dominate your search results and find ways to stand out from the crowd of other applicants.
Online reputation management (ORM) isn’t just about crisis management; it’s about relevance and prevention. If someone searches for your name, do they get relevant and positive results about you? If you share a name with Tom Cruise you may have a hard time ranking, but for the vast majority of us, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get at least one professional listing in the top ten results. And by professional listing, I don’t mean your MySpace page. You want a credible result that demonstrates your excellence in a particular industry or role.
It may not take much to get there, but you probably have questions about how to do it and you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend with a competitive online reputation management company. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to actively manage your online reputation today. So, let’s dive in to three simple techniques for do-it-yourself ORM:
- Register your name. Use KnowEm to register your username across hundreds of social networks, reducing the likelihood of taken or, even worse, hijacked usernames. Since you’re reading KnowEm’s blog, I hope you’ve already made the investment. It’s worth its weight in gold when you consider the amount of money and time spent everyday by businesses trying to reclaim trademarked domains and social profiles. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to salvage a username or work around a client’s terrible domain because they didn’t have the foresight to register it before a competitor or an angry customer. So, if you haven’t done it yet, sign-up for KnowEm, right now. Seriously.
Bonus tip: Don’t stop with your social profiles, register your domain name! It’s just a couple of bucks, so money isn’t an excuse when it’s our most powerful tool for repairing a client’s online reputation.
- Build up your accounts. Now that you’ve registered your username, identify the most relevant and powerful networks (mainstream and/or industry-specific) and beef up those accounts. During the registration process with KnowEm they customized your profiles, but there might be more opportunities, such as integrating your Twitter or blog feed, adding external links to multiple sites, customizing your URL or adding a longer bio or personal interests. Take advantage of every opportunity on those stronger networks.
Bonus tip: Befriend everyone you know by using the network’s friend or address book search feature (most social networks should have the latter). Also, look for active, new and similar contacts that you would enjoy communicating with on that network. This helps make your account more powerful by cross-linking it with others.
- Use your accounts. Once you know which accounts are performing the best and have optimized those, identify the ones that are most relevant to you and start participating on them. It isn’t enough to simply register the accounts. If you have any competition for your name, you’ll also have to use the networks. After you’ve identified half a dozen accounts you’re going to maintain, choose one to two that you check daily and just do weekly posts on the others. This adds fresh content to your account, increases interaction with other users and makes it more likely that someone will link to you. Each of those will help your account rank better in the search engines.
Bonus tip: Understand the privacy policies of each social network and your professional situation. The last thing you want to do is share private information or make slanderous remarks that could get you fired and force more drastic reputation management techniques!
Those few things make up the basics of DIY online reputation management. After you’ve set up your accounts, optimized them and used them, be patient. It could take several months to see significant results, but over time they should change in your favor.
Want to learn more about how you can improve your search results? Check out the online reputation management guide from Outspoken Media. And, if you have a problem that requires more aggressive results, contact us.
Do you know who it is you’re actually following on Twitter? Facebook? MySpace? Due to the recent explosion of interest in Twitter, thanks in no small part to Ashton (@aplusk) and Oprah (@oprah), celebrities and regular folk are flocking to Twitter. But how do you know if the person you’re following is actually a celebrity, and not just regular folk? You can’t, and Twitter is still very quiet about any plans to stop Twitterjacking: the act of impersonating someone else on Twitter.
The biggest concern with your brand identity in Online Reputation Management and Social Media used to be just giving your brand a good name. But what happens if someone steals your brand name? Do you think they’re going to be as concerned with your reputation? The need for businesses to secure their brand name on every possible venue has never been greater.
Knowem co-founder Mike Streko was recently interviewed by Fox News in a report about Twitterjacking: “Unless you start spending money to put out press releases saying that’s not your profile or jump through hoops to contact Twitter, it never works out well.”
The truth is, it’s almost impossible to get your brand name or username back once it’s been taken. Unlike when someone takes yourbrandname.com, there is no universal naming authority for social media profiles. As a brand owner, you’re basically at the mercy of the site owner. Or, since there are hundreds (if not thousands) of social media websites thriving today, you would have to appeal your case to every individual site owner to get your brand name profile back.
Or you could just use KnowEm’s username signup service (or monthly subscription service) to secure all your brand name profiles today, in just one click.