When we grew up our parents worried about “What the neighbors will think” if we did anything stupid.
Today we have bigger things to worry about with our kids online. What will Google think is a better question to ask our kids. My kids are 14, 19, 26, & 28 and my older boys were already adults when MySpace really launched in 2004 (not saying they didn’t do stupid stuff at that age, it’s just I didn’t have to worry about their ONLINE reputation). But my two younger daughters, Taylor and Bailey, have been using social sites like Facebook, YouTube and even Twitter for at least two years now, and we have the Google discussion quite frequently.
Today’s youth have grown up social. They have their own YouTube channels and Facebook pages. Some, like my daughters, have Twitter accounts and already blog. They manage complex social circles and post photos of themselves and their friends EVERYWHERE. Their parents are also blogging about them, sharing embarrassing photos with others on Facebook and posting videos of little Johnny playing the tuba in the school play on YOUTUBE (usually not in a channel or set to private because mom and dad haven’t figured out how to do that). One study commissioned by security company AVG, found that 92% of infants have an online presence by the time they are TWO! Moms post sonograms and infant pics all over their networks.
In business we want to know where our name and our compay brand is being talked about, and we even have tools to find out. You can set up Google Alerts, and use services like Social Mention to send you notices when your name (or keywords) are mentioned in blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other places. What about for your kids? Don’t be naive and assume they are not using any of these tools. If they are old enough to text message or type on a computer (approximately age 5 these days), they are creating tracks.
Remember a brand isn’t just about the information YOU put out there. It is what your customers and others say about you out there. When I say Walmart, what is the BRAND IMAGE you get? Low cost, cheap, yellow happy face-dude? When I say SUN CHIPS what is the BRAND IMAGE you get? LOUD BAG! When I say your kids’ names (aside from you being creeped out that I knew their name), what comes up in a Google search? What would a future employer or college admin office think of their brand? Google their names…with them sitting right next to you…so you can have these conversations. Don’t only check web results, but check images, video, etc.
The fear of having one’s kids show up in ANY Google search can send chills of fear down the spine of most parents and cause many to pull internet cables out of the house all together, but we can’t cripple our children by not allowing them to build a positive brand for themselves online either (after all your child just might become a gazillionaire for creating the next Facebook). NOW is the time to teach them about reputation management and a safe online presence. Learn about Facebook privacy settings together and be sure photos are put into albums and locked down for appropriate viewing.
As you have these conversations with them, be sure to spend some time reflecting on how this also relates to you and your online reputation. If nothing shows up, what can you do to change that so positive posts and threads of your brilliance show up in searches? If you have a common name, what can you do to capitalize on your product or service brand? Perhaps starting that blog you’ve been talking about would give you enough regular Google tracks that you can rise to the top of your name search!
There is always great conversation around the differences or similarities between REPUTATION and BRAND, but with so many tools available to leave Google tracks around town or around the globe, we must be intentional to leave positive tracks and avoid any negative press. After all…what would your neighbor’s think?
Share with us how you keep your kids safe, while still allowing them to utilize the tools of their generation. If you don’t have children in this age category…LUCKY YOU! What advice would you give those of us who do (it is usually the child-free who give the best advice to parents :))
As always, let me know if I, or the team here at Synapse can help you and your organization use today’s technology tools to build your business and manage your brand!