Have you Googled yourself lately? Or better, have you had your teen or college kid Google themselves lately?

If so, what did you find? Were you shocked by the results?

photo cred: Pixabay.com
photo cred: Pixabay.com

More than a quarter of Americans, including more than one in three millennials, now believe that they are more likely to make a first impression online than at a party. Wow, the times they are a changing! But this is the key takeaway from a new survey of Americans conducted by Domain.ME, which examines our complicated relationship with our online reputations.

Being a social media savvy mom myself and working online every day, I am honestly not shocked by these results. At the click of a mouse lies a slew of information about ourselves and others that can either paint a beautiful personal or corporate picture, or a shockingly ugly one. Surprisingly, 60% of Americans have not bothered to Google themselves.

The study also shared some fascinating facts that prove that Americans are surprisingly aware of the impact online information has on their reputation or personal brand:

  • Nearly one in four (24%) Americans admit to being negatively affected by information about them online. That number is even worse for millennials, nearly half of them admit to being negatively impacted.
  • 42% of Americans surveyed actually have changed their opinion about someone else based on content they saw online. Those numbers are higher for millennials with 57% of them agreeing with that sentiment.

And for the stalkers among us, here’s some creepy stats:

  • 23% search for people because a friend has mentioned them in conversation.
  • 16% search people in preparation for a business meeting or work related event.
  • 14% go online to check someone out before a first date or social gathering. No shocker there.

So the jury is clearly out! We know that there’s all this digital information about us floating around the digital universe and it’s not always accurate or on brand. Imagine our college kids going for job interviews and potential employers Googling them only to find incorrect or inaccurate information? On this note, I always remind the boys that whatever they post online, lives forever. Once the cat’s out of the bag, there’s no taking it back, so think long and hard before you snap and post. That college drinking game caught in an Instavideo on Instagram, might impact them getting a job. I encourage all of our kids to make wise choices to make sure their digital footprint is a good one.

photo cred: public domain

If you are on the fence, here are some ways to control your digital reputation:

  1. Don’t be afraid and just search! Google yourself regularly. Or better, set up a Google alert with your name. If you have a common name like “Jennifer Jones,” add your employer, hometown or other distinguishing factors about yourself to make the search/alert more accurate.
  2. Fix any misinformation. If you do see content online about you that is wrong, get to the source and try to fix it. If you put it up yourself only to realize later on you regret it, pull it down. If someone else posted it, reach out to them to get them to correct  the misinformation.
  3. Triple check your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter privacy settings. If there are less than flattering pictures of your kids tagged to their accounts, have them untag themselves, and keep their account settings on private. A whopping 68% of employers check the Facebook pages of job applicants (Forbes.com)
  4. Write your own message! While you can’t control everything that is said about you or your children online, you can take control of your digital profile by creating your own website or starting your own blog (like I have done). It’s pretty easy to secure your name with a domain that ends in .ME. On top of that, building out a site with your professional achievements, bio, awards, interests, and all the positive aspects about you is easy with as site builders that are out there today. On a sidenote, optimize your site for search engine queries with SEO plugins. I like All In One SEO or Yoast. Personally branded sites will come up higher in search results about you and help you take control of your online reputation. Creating a personal website and a social media presence to bump any negative information will dramatically help your digital destiny.

If you wanted to share this information with your children to show them just how important their digital footprint is, I have shared a nice info-graphic to paint a clear picture below.

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Wishing you a wonderful Monday.


Disclosure: This post was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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