How do you think a hiring manager at the new company you want to work for would feel if they saw your Facebook or Instagram? If just thinking about that makes you feel uncomfortable, you probably need an online brand audit. An online brand audit is when you remove everything from your online presence that doesn’t show you the way you want to be seen.
What is an Online Brand Audit?
A brand audit involves inspecting your online content to confirm whether it matches your desired online reputation and image. The goal of a brand audit is to determine to what extent your online content succeeds in presenting the image you want. You can use brand audits to improve your online appearance and reputation.
You reveal something about yourself every time you share anything online. Every post, like, share, and online activity, or inactivity, impacts other people’s impression of you. Take advantage of that fact by presenting the best image you can. Brand audits ensure you achieve that goal.
Why do an online brand audit?
Cyber vetting is almost a staple part of the hiring process for most modern companies. They’ll search for you online to check your internet reputation to judge what kind of person you are. Usually, they’ll check your social media presence, especially your LinkedIn and Facebook.
The goal of cyber vetting is mostly to make sure you don’t have any red flags like posting inappropriate or hateful material online. But, you can do an online brand audit to not just remove any potentially negative material, but also to portray yourself positively.
Regular online brand audits to ensure that the human resource department sees you as the awesome professional they always wanted in their company.
How to conduct an online brand audit?
Just follow these 4 steps to complete your online brand audit.
1. Google Your Name & Username
Since the HR people usually Google your name for cyber-vetting, you should do the same for your audit. Search your name and social media usernames and take note of the results. Specifically, make sure there aren’t any immediate negative results, like an unprofessional-looking photo or an NSFW social media post–anything that objectively makes you look bad or unprofessional.
You might assume there couldn’t possibly be any negative posts of you online, but you’d be surprised. A negative post doesn’t even have to be something you uploaded–it could be a post from a friend or family member. In any case, delete everything that potentially hurts your image.
2. Personal Social Media Audit
Everyone uses social media for completely personal reasons, and that’s completely fine. You don’t have to go and unlike every cat video you’ve ever heart reacted to. Instead, you should check your privacy settings and make it impossible for people to search for your personal social media posts, comments, shares, and reactions. Virtually, all social media platforms allow you to do that.
Ideally, there shouldn’t be any publicly available information about your personal social media activity, like messages, shares, and reactions. Completely keep that out of the public eye.
3. Audit and update your LinkedIn Profile
Even if you have accounts on 100 different social media platforms, LinkedIn is more important than all the others put together. LinkedIn is the world’s premier online professional network, and it’s the first platform that potential recruiters check. So, make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and professional looking.
Remove any personal or political chatter off your LinkedIn, update your working availability, and make sure that even your profile picture gives the right impression. When a potential employer opens your LinkedIn profile, they should see a confident candidate who’s laid out his professional career and interests for the world to see.
4. Audit your Personal Website
Personal websites are a great tool for self-promotion if you use them right. Conversely, a sloppy and sketchy-looking website that makes a prospective employer question your identity can ruin you. So, make sure your portfolio website is professional and updated. Although it’s ‘your’ website, it shouldn’t have any unnecessary personal details or potentially negative information.
Your personal site should only contain the most relevant professional information, like your current work status, portfolio of samples, contact information, etc. Most importantly, everything they see on your website shouldn’t contradict claims on your other social media.
Controlling the damage
Don’t panic if you find some potentially very negative results after completing your audit. We’ve all posted things on the internet that we’ve regretted over the years, and it won’t ruin you if you fix it. Here are some of the steps you can take to control the damage caused by a bad online reputation.
1. Delete all photos and videos that contradict your desired appearance
2. Untag yourself from all potentially negative posts and pictures
3. Delete embarrassing or unprofessional comments and posts
4. Close any social media accounts that have too much controversial material
5. Make your privacy settings stricter to remove unwanted views
Re-do your online brand audit after completing these steps to see the difference. If you still find more negative content, just keep re-doing these steps until you’re satisfied. It’s perfectly fine if it takes you several rounds before you finally clear your online image. In conclusion, a personal brand audit is when you check your entire online presence and remove all the negative aspects of it. You want to complete an online brand audit because virtually every company you apply to will look you up online. An online brand audit prepares you for being cyber-vetted by highlighting everything wrong in your online persona.