Just as consumers are becoming more and more aware of their environmental footprint so too are they becoming increasingly aware of their digital footprint.
And with that awareness comes concerns about the lack of controls available to manage it. We’re realizing that as society grows more comfortable using the web to learn about each other, our public records, data, photos, videos, and blogs may paint a picture that is less than safe, accurate or flattering.
In a recent survey by Harris Interactive around 90% of Americans indicated they wanted more control over the information that is available about them online. I suspect that, in this case, Americans are speaking for all of us.
Because people use websites and search engines to find out information about others, the fact is that our online identity is now as important as our “offline” personal or professional reputation.
It is starting to dawn on us how much information about ourselves is online and that this information is impacting how others view us. In the survey:
* 78% said they believe it is very important to look up information about people and/or businesses online before deciding to interact or do business with them;
* 74% claimed they would most likely refuse to interact or do business with a person or company if they found negative information about them online;
* 69% stated that they would be much more likely to interact with someone on a personal level if they found positive information about them online.
It means that every company and every individual must participate in the online world if only to present their side of the story. Increasingly, our online reputation is becoming the means by which we are judged and potentially the major determinant of our future success. That online reputation cannot be left to chance nor can it safely be left in the hands of others.