With the developments of the internet and the increasingly popular trends of Social Media, reputation management has become a defining feature for many online users. Never before has it been this easy for people to find out personal information of other users. With a multitude of social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, users can simply browse online to discover personal information, just at the click of a button.
In these technologically savvy times, caution has to be taken as to what personal information we make available online. This is not only in light of relevant privacy issues, but also from a business perspective. You don’t want to open your personal life up too much that it effects your business reputation. Whether you decide to take the open approach and let your information be available to all users, or the closed approach and strictly monitor who has access to what, managing reputation online is becoming an important issue for users to consider.
This reputation management has been called constructing an ‘online identity’. Whilst most social networking sites encourage users to be as honest as possible regarding their personal profiles, it is also just as important to not give out too much information.
Studies have indicated that young people are more likely to monitor their reputation online. It was reported that more than two-thirds (71%) of social networking users ages 18-29 have changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online. There has also been an increase of reputation management from the demographic of prominent business men and women, who are becoming progressively more restrictive with the information that can be accessed through their personal profiles. This indicates the growing caution of Social Media backlash and the possible negative effects personal information could have on business relationships and the manner in which consumers view these prominent people.
Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and lead author of ‘Reputation Management and Social Media’ says,” Search engines and social media sites now play a central role in building one’s identity online.” She further indicates that much of the management of a reputation is trial and error, “Many users are learning and refining their approach as they go–changing privacy settings on profiles, customizing who can see certain updates and deleting unwanted information about them that appears online.”