Online Identity Management Crisis

I recently had an online identity management crisis.  As a result, I did quite a bit of thinking about how to successfully manage multiple personalities in the right way, which also got me to thinking about online identity management and reputation management as an issue for small business and non-profit.

My Problem – Multiple Personalities

Since 2006 when I launched NewsOverCoffee, a placeblog in eastern PA, I have been building an identity around NOC.  I was careful to have the persona be the ‘site’ not me as an individual.  The reason was that with a placeblog, the focus should be the place, not the person writing about the place.  I used NewsOverCoffee as a single word with no spaces so I could more easily search it and find backlinks and references to it.

My second identity was professional via my non-profit association email and related accounts.

Now, I’m looking to establish a third, my consulting persona via Nunamaker Interactive, which leverages everything I’ve done and learned in the prior two personalities to help small business and non-profits create and grow their online footprint (or personality).

I’ve not mentioned a personal personality.  In order to best manage my online reputation, I took down my vanity blog (used from about 2004-2006 to learn how to blog), and have not participated in Facebook or MySpace, instead choosing LinkedIn.  Obviously Facebook has professional applications, but our friends are our friends and while they make funny comments and have old pictures that make us cringe, I don’t have control over when and what they say, or who sees it.  In this space, I don’t want to mix business and pleasure.

Wikipedia has an interesting article on Online Identity Management and it notes that a December 2007 survey indicated, “roughly half of U.S. hiring officials use the Internet in vetting job applications.”  Considering when this survey was done, imagine how much more content is out there, and how many more people are using it.

Have you consciously considered your online identity?  What it says about you?  What it means for your business and business prospects?

Individuals and businesses need to give seriuos consideration to online identity management as well as online reputation management. 

In the next post, I’ll address how to manage multiple personalities and clearly define each one.

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