This morning the headlines of NRC Next, a Dutch national paper, said “Protect your reputation on the Internet – first aid for egosurfers” (my translation). It discusses various methods of influencing how you are viewed when people look for you online. Logically, a big part of the article talks about Google and ways to influence Brand You – a term coined by Tom Peters in an article in Fast Company in 1997. Yep, only 10 years ago but the concept is hitting the mainstream 😉
Methods discussed in the article vary from getting stuff in the engines that you like to getting stuff out of the engines that you don’t like. As you will see soon when I launch my new Internet service I’m at the side of people who believe it is more about raising your own voice. Just read this piece from Seth Godin which Illustrates why I don’t believe in focussing on ‘burying the critics’:
“The problem, of course, is that while the story is seductive, it’s not particularly true. As soon as a company starts to push the bad stuff down, someone writes about it or new bad stuff shows up and on it goes… Even worse, not only is there always another bad thing to push down, but the act of writing about what the company is doing (like I’m doing now) makes it even more difficult to “manage your reputation” by burying the critics. The real answer is simple: be transparent, do good work, answer your legitimate critics in the same forum or through your actions.”
This strategy seems the most logical since younger generations are putting more and more about themselves out there on the Net, as Danah Boyd illustrates wonderfully:
“My generation isn’t as afraid of public opinion as his was. We face it head-on and know how to manage it. We digitally document every love story and teen drama imaginable and then go on to put out content that creates a really nuanced public persona. If you read just one entry, you’re bound to get a distorted view. That’s why I would also advise Mimi to begin creating her own Google trails. She should express her current thoughts on China, reflecting on how she has fine-tuned her perspective over the years. Part of living in a networked society is learning how to accessorize our digital bodies, just as we learn to put on the appropriate clothes to go to the office.”
Thanks Arnoud for the pointer to the Next article!