This brief post is all about the trail of published content we leave around the Internet and the impact this has on our reputation.
When I was starting out in sales and marketing, one of my former bosses advised me to always engage my brain before I engaged my mouth. His point, was that it was easy to say the wrong thing by accident – simply by not thinking first. That was well over 20 years ago, but his advice is just as valid today as it was when I was a 21 year old, hot-headed salesman.
However, in the era of the Internet and social media, it’s just as important for us to think before we post content to a forum, a blog or our accounts on services like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc. Just last month, both Google and bing.com announced deals with Twitter, to allow them to show real-time search results from people’s tweets. In other words, it’s no longer ‘just’ the millions of people with Twitter accounts, who can search your tweets, but anyone that wants to!
It’s hard to get the toothpaste back in the tube
Once we hit that send, publish or tweet button – that’s it: Another chapter in our online profile has been created. The challenge with the written word online, is that it’s a bit like toothpaste. Toothpaste is really easy to get out of a tube, but very, very difficult to get back in again. What we publish online leaves a trail around the Internet, which anyone can follow.
Even after it’s deleted, much of the material we publish online is still possible to locate. This is what my good friends at Symantec call your digital tattoo.
Then, let’s not forget that anyone can use The Internet Archive for free, to track ‘deleted’ websites and the content of those sites! Quick tip: If you have never used the Internet archive, give it a go – it’s amazing!
Our clients, future clients, employer or future employers can easily get a snapshot of the kind of person we are, simply by knowing how to use Google. Business owners and consultants would do well to consider that by most estimates, over 90% of people now check-out a potential service provider online, before they decide to do business with them.
Always remember, once you hit that send / tweet / publish button – It’s gone. However, it’s seldom gone forever!