Executives: How to SPF (Search Protection Factor) Your Summer
This iconic advice (given by a “commencement speaker” in Baz Luhrmann’s song from the late 90’s) has become code for the following wisdom:
Life is complicated in unexpected ways, but there are some simple, basic things you can do to avoid an unnecessary crisis. At least that.
This summer, you’ll wear sunscreen to protect your health and your youth – but what (or who) is protecting your digital reputation?
As you Instagram your way through the islands, blog a path through the whiskey bars of Europe, or get tagged by your friends at so-and-so’s pool party, what movement will be taking place on that great portal to your reputation we call Google? Who would you like to be seen as? Who would you like to be seen with? These things are far more in your control than you might think.
Since your reputation is at least as valuable to you as the luggage you insure before your flight, we’d like to state a few (perhaps obvious) tips before your vacation becomes a liability:
- Twitter: If you tweet frequently, your Twitter feed (and, if you are a superstar, the tweets themselves) are likely to rank on Google page one, especially if your tweets are your original content. Make sure the things you tweet are not just fit for your followers on that medium, but for everyone who may be searching for you on Google.
- Images: You may want to change your Facebook profile picture to the new one of you with the great tan and six pack (and also beer), imagining that only your friends will see it. Keep in mind, though, that your profile pictures will tend to rank in a Google search of your name, or your company’s. Which of your “assets” should your investors and board members see?
- Video: Google often provides searchers with a “video carousel” placed within organic search results, if a relevant video is available. Make sure the videos which will appear when searching your name (usually based on the title in YouTube or on your blog) remain professional and relevant.
- Your blog: It’s great if you have one, since ownership (sites where you control or at least influence the content) is one way to strengthen digital reputation. Sites like these will often rank prominently in searches for your name. Are you posting responsible, relevant written and video material on the road? Are you being true to the brand you’ve created for yourself? Remember that reputation doesn’t take a vacation, and often sticks around even longer than the sand everywhere.
- Wikipedia: Do you have a Wikipedia page? If so, you know that this page will appear at the top in search results for your name. And you probably have better things to do on your vacation than track whether any of that platform’s 200,000 editors have made any updates without your knowledge. Luckily, the Five Blocks WikiAlerts tool sends real time alerts to your email whenever there’s a change, so you can know before the Chairman does.
- Google Alerts: Along these lines, we assume you will have already set up a Google Alert for your name and your company’s; if you haven’t yet — this would be the perfect time. That way, you can get to the business of vacationing and just check your inbox periodically to see if you may have an issue. Forewarned is forearmed. Make sure that when you get away from your desk this summer your reputation stays right where you left it. Have fun!