A man is known by the company he keeps – this age old adage, holds true in real life and on the internet through social networks. It is not uncommon to gauge a person by checking out his friends list on Facebook. Although it has become customary to send a friend request to all and sundry, anyone we meet in the park or at a conference-irrespective of whether we wish to pursue a personal relationship or are even likely to meet again-but we begin to share our lives through Facebook. On hindsight, you may find that almost 50% of the friend requests you accept, may be of people you barely know, and may not even recognize. Additionally, many not have the character that we relate to, may not share the same morals or ideals, or may even be notorious, or with some strong negative traits that we may wish to distance ourselves from. Such people can be damaging to our reputations both online and in the real world.
There are always a set of people we may know, but do not wish to be seen with-since they stand for a set of values that we cannot accept. The same is true for us online, having such people on our friends list can be an embarrassment. They are indeed the ones who can affect our online reputations. Online reputations matter to businesses, and need to be preserved not just by refuting negative comments, but also by closely monitoring the associations formed. Friends or connections on Facebook or LinkedIn have a deeper impact beyond establishing a wider network. It makes us vulnerable and our reputations may be at stake, since we may be pulled down with the dubious contacts we establish.
How to safeguard online reputations
- Keeping close tabs on the quality of people following you on Twitter-A long list of followers appears appealing, but can be damaging, so trying to maintain a certain standard is helpful.
- Not accepting all friend requests on Facebook– Having a thousand friends is not really a target, the class of people they include is more important. SO unless we know people, accepting their friend requests is not a good idea.
- Keeping tabs on ‘like’ pages and Twitter lists– This is necessary since a page liked on Facebook is indicative of personal preferences, and causes perhaps you relate to. Similar an online reputation through Twitter is established by those you follow or are your followers. Both these must be cautiously monitored and must reflect your online reputation in a positive light.
Besides friends, the right use of language, avoiding certain expressions and maintaining a neutral stand on issues, avoiding heated exchange of words, and so on, all add up to protect an online reputation. Reputation management must be initiated at the outset, or else it can blow out of proportion and resurrecting a tarnished image can take a long time, and a clean reputation may never return. So perhaps it is time to take a closer look at friends’ lists and see who needs to be kept and who all can be removed.