Are you in control of your online reputation? Start the school year on a clean slate
Senior Project Manager, TELUS Wise
The start of a new academic year can be both an exciting and anxious time. It can bring a lot of change, including new clothing, school supplies, teachers, friends, routine, additional responsibilities and sometimes even new freedoms. As you kick off this fall semester, take the time to assess your online reputation and take any necessary steps to keep it in control, now and in the future. Doing so is critical, especially when you consider a report from Kaplan which indicates that 35% of college admissions officers said they visited an applicant’s social networking page to learn more about them and 42% saw something negative that impacted the student’s application.
Regardless of when you plan to head to post-secondary - whether it’s next year, in three years or maybe even never - you are never too young (or too old) to discredit the importance of your online reputation. From the moment you make your first post, send your first text or take your first selfie, you need to start managing and protecting your online reputation.
So, what is an online reputation? Your online reputation is an extension of your own personal brand - it’s a direct reflection of the content you post, and the reactions and interactions you have with others online. Think about your online reputation as what is said about you when you leave the room – it’s not what you think you are, but the feeling you leave with others.
Start the school year off with a clean slate and keep your online reputation in control with these tips:
Audit - Discover what’s on the Internet about you by entering your full name, location, email addresses and usernames into a search engine like Google to see what comes up. You can also set up a Google Alert for your name at google.com/alerts so you are notified when your name appears online. It’s also a good idea to scour your social media accounts or other forums that you frequent to make sure there aren’t any inappropriate posts, reactions or likes (better still, try to avoid these mistakes in the first place.. but nobody is perfect).
Reflect - After your audit, evaluate what you’ve discovered. Remember, text messages, comments, snaps, photos and videos can be saved, forwarded and shared in an instant; even things you never post or send that are simply stored on your device can be accessed if someone gains access to your computer or phone. If all of the content uncovered in your audit and on your devices was shared on a public billboard in town, would you be ok with that? Before you post, or contribute anything online, think about the billboard.
Reset - Regularly update privacy and permission settings on social media accounts and apps. Permission settings control what can and cannot be accessed and shared about you by a social networking site or app, whereas privacy settings control who can and cannot see your profile and posts. You should also change passwords, scrub ‘friends’ lists, and deactivate accounts you no longer use. Correct any inaccuracies as quickly as possible. If you notice that someone posted something without your consent that you are uncomfortable with, consider reaching out to the individual to have it removed.
Foster - Establish and respect personal boundaries when using technology. Always be mindful of posts, comments and media shared and the impact it can have others. Further, ask yourself what your employer, principal, coach, parents or teachers would think, before you post. Behave in an online manner that reflects your best attributes and those that you want to be known for. Look ahead to the future and consider the possible implications your online reputation could have on you in the future, whether that be running for student council, securing a volunteer role, applying for your first job or even getting into the school of your choice.
It’s not just the new school year when we’re reminded of how important it is to manage our online reputation. Keep these tips in mind year round and learn more about keeping your online reputation in control by signing your school up for a free TELUS Wise in control workshop and by taking the TELUS Wise in control challenge.