In our digital‑first world, where Google has replaced the telephone directory and business cards have been supplanted by LinkedIn, our online digital profiles are the first impression we give to the world and the primary source of information that others will use to research us.
Our digital profile plays a huge role in both online and offline reputation, privacy and security management.
We need to focus on our digital profiles through the lens of our true audience, whether that be family members, prospective employers or investors, the media, competitors or non‑governmental organisations and investigative journalists.
We need to consider how our digital profile can be enhanced to allow us to harness the power of a positive, supportive, fair, accurate and up‑to‑date digital profile, while also strengthening it against threats.
WHAT IS A ‘DIGITAL PROFILE’?
Our digital profile is like a jigsaw puzzle made up of multiple online sources that contain information about us, our history, our activities, our likes and preferences, our friends and family, the organisations and causes we support, and so on.
This will include content we create or control, such as social media accounts or company websites, but it goes far beyond this.
Our complete digital profile also includes news websites, Wikipedia, compliance databases, review websites and third‑party blogs or social media posts (including those made by friends), most of which is outside our direct control.
It is a desirable goal to strive to remain private, but each of us and our families and businesses will have some level of digital presence and digital profile in today’s increasingly connected world.
Therefore, it is important to ensure this profile is accurate and resilient and to make it work for us and not against us.
WHY IS OPTIMISING OUR DIGITAL PROFILE IMPORTANT?
Digital profiles have become a critical tool in nearly all key decision‑making processes, such as whom we will hire, invest-with or accept donations from, and sometimes even with whom to begin a relationship.
An unguarded comment on social media from years ago could cost you that important job interview. An embarrassing photograph, a poor joke, an indiscreet comment – these all live forever on the internet nowadays, and could come back to bite you in the future.
Your digital profile also forms the spearhead of your defences against risks and threats to your reputation, privacy and security.
It is therefore vital that everybody (but especially anyone in the public eye, such as a business leader, executive, board-member, professional, politician or anyone in the media) takes active control of your digital presence.
10 TIPS HOW YOU CAN GAIN CONTROL OF YOUR DIGITAL PROFILE
- Assess what is out there. Conduct an inventory, identifying what information exists about you, your family members and your businesses online.This needs to be a comprehensive assessment across all information depositories, not just Google.Getting this visibility helps ensure that there are not any hidden pockets of information, documentation or conversation damaging your reputation that go unnoticed and unaddressed.Understanding the current status and make‑up of your digital profile will highlight where there are content gaps, inaccuracies, fake news and what messages are underrepresented and need to be strengthened.
- You need to think about what you want to achieve through your digital profile.This will ideally not be a standalone objective (such as better Google search results); to be effective it should be tied to your wider objectives around investing, philanthropy, succession, wealth planning and legacy.Defining your goals and objectives helps prioritise efforts and identify what success looks like.This also allows your digital profile to support, enhance and advance your wider goals.
- Build a strategy. There is no ‘one size fits all’: every strategy must be bespoke and tailored to your specific needs.The strategy must be comprehensive.It cannot just focus on the first page of Google or just look at a single Wikipedia page.Tactics to improve one part of your digital profile work to improve other parts and vice versa.The various tactics are mutually reinforcing and, as such, any strategy will be much more effective when implemented in a comprehensive manner.
- Be persistent. Like Rome, resilient digital profiles are not built in a day. It takes time to do it right and to build long‑lasting and sustainable resilience.
- The strategy must complement what you are doing offline and profiles should be authentic.
- Use creative tactics and high‑quality content. A successful digital resilience strategy will always be founded on high‑quality, varied content and creative tactics that are persistently deployed.
- Curate what you discover about yourself. Consider deleting old posts, inactive accounts and unwanted, outdated or inaccurate data.
- If the data is outside of your direct control, consider contacting the owner/publisher where the data resides to request that the data be removed or updated.
- Other potential tactics could include improving Wikidata, building a presence on key digital platforms, building or improving a controlled website, utilising or creating social media channels as appropriate and building profiles on relevant websites.
- Monitor what is being said online and by whom. It is crucial for you to conduct ongoing monitoring of the online conversation around you, your family and/or your company.
This will give you a live understanding of the tone and content of the discussion, and information as to who is interested in you and their relevance.
This is a great way to harness the benefit of the digital world and is the best way for you to gain insight into your reputation on an objective basis.
It will also serve as an early warning system for any growing threats to your reputation, privacy and security.
There are many businesses that claim to assist with these types of strategies and tactics.
Unfortunately, in an unregulated industry like this, far too many of them employ ‘black hat’ tactics such as using bots, abandoned social media accounts, click farms, fake websites and so on.
They may also focus solely on pushing down the negative content in search results.
These tactics can sometimes produce the appearance of relatively quick results but they seldom last, as the tactics are not sustainable for any length of time and themselves can cause significant reputational damage.
Anything worth doing is worth doing right.
Your digital profile can be an incredibly powerful asset or an open door for increasing risks and threats, depending on whether you properly manage it and build resilience.
Do you need assistance with getting your affairs in order – including your Digital Assets? We can help. Download our free eBook “Protecting your Digital Assets” here.
How we can help you?
An important modern consideration in putting your affairs in order, is to know what happens to your online accounts when you become incapacitated or die. It is critical that you understand who will be able to access or control your digital assets and all your personal information.
Unless you put steps in place to preserve your digital assets, you risk losing all you have built.
Genders and Partners are the Oldest Law Firm in South Australia. We are a boutique specialist law firm focusing on estate planning and elder law to help clients protect themselves, their family and their assets. Founded in 1848, we are celebrating our 175th anniversary in 2023 by launching a new integrated suite of estate planning products and services as an add-on to their EstatePlanner Essential Protection Plans. Find out more by downloading our free eBook “Protecting your Digital Assets” here.
Contact us to learn how to protect yourself, your family and your assets through modern integrated estate planning solutions, by visiting our website today and schedule a free no obligation telephone consultation to find out how they can help you and yours.
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Protecting Your Digital Assets
What will happen to your online accounts, profiles, data, subscriptions and memberships, if you die or become incapacitated?
With data breaches, elder abuse and digitalisation all on the increase, read these important insights from senior Australian specialist lawyer Rod Genders to help protect yourself, your family and your assets.