What is your on-line presence like?

Have you ever searched for yourself on Google? What difference does a well-managed online presence make to you and your business?

Think back to the year 2000. If you were in business then, you might have had a website – but maybe not. If you were advertising and marketing, most likely it was via print media, maybe paper mail outs or faxes. If your office had an Internet connection, staff probably weren’t able to use if freely, there may not even have been email addresses for everyone.

In 2014, we don’t leave home without the smart phone, email account setup, browser access. We feel deprived if we are in a location where we can’t connect, and of course the office is always online. And then there is social media, oozing into common usage right through to corporate level. Even the Australian Federal Police, that bastion of conservative security consciousness has succumbed and is publishing a Facebook page.

Until recently, most businesses were not embracing social media and there were likely strict rules about use of social media sites at work. But this is changing with lightning speed, in fact many businesses have dedicated staff managing and updating their social media input and many businesses use social media for a whole range of corporate functions from recruitment to client communication.

There are two sides to this tale: for individuals and for businesses. There are indisputable benefits for business using social media to keep contact with clients, find out what they want and think, keep up with rapidly changing trends. On the downside, social media sites are notorious for security breaches, and users can be vulnerable to scammers, hackers and identity thieves. Further, every time you use social media, you are building your online CV and it will follow you forever. Dumb mistakes, malicious or merely incorrect posts, pure accident, they could haunt you for a long time.

A few recent recent examples:

A public servant, who criticised the government on Twitter was sacked even though she did not reveal her name or job to her followers. She lost her appeal earlier this year. Here is the full story.

Fair Work Central reports on its website that “Dismissal cases involving social media have grown in numbers in recent times. The implications of social media for employers and employees are still being fully determined.”

There are lots of cases where social media provides the evidence used for sacking staff. There are many more examples where businesses have been damaged by social media reports. Here is one where musician Dave Carroll managed to affect United Airlines by persistently using online services to complain that the baggage handlers broke his guitar.

Then there are less obvious implications:

A business colleague of mine was booted out of a business association because he accidentally announced his membership of a rival group via an automatic update from LinkedIn. Wow! The rights and wrongs of this kind of draconian behaviour aside, the point is he was announcing his activities without realising it and advertising to his entire network. Great when this gives you increased positive contact with clients and other parts of your network, not so good when it comes back to bite you.

The point is there is a loss of control that many of us don’t realise or take into account:

– Your email address links you to your business – and is used on many sites to automatically update information about you.
– Poor attention to privacy settings can lead to a lot of information going out to an unintentionally wide circle
– Location services used by many smart phone apps build up a picture of your habits and behaviour that are saleable (yes really! Advertisers can use this information to target you so they get the most efficiencies from expensive advertising – including spam

Lifelong CV and Business Profile

We are always connected (some say always on duty), the business has little tentacles that reach out across the world following us like endlessly stretchy elastic bands attached to our smart phones, our tablets, leaping in through every Wifi hotspot to keep us informed. The business is constantly in the spotlight via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. The behaviour and opinions of staff, suppliers, customers gets airtime everywhere and everyone knows instantly when any glitch happens. The business doesn’t get a second chance, because the records are indelible now: no forgiveness, no turning over a new leaf. Not so now…

– FooForce has recovered content from old defunct websites that have not been live for 10 years.- along with all the incorrect data that was removed in later versions.
– Its really hard – sometime impossible – to get incorrect or damaging references removed from Internet searches, and these can pop up first when potential customers are searching for you.
– The business doesn’t get a second chance, because the records are indelible now: one impulsive negative comment can hang around forever, out performing all the good comments to filter up to the top of the search results.

Our advice is to be alert, choose carefully what you agree to on Internet sites. If your business is considering entering the social media world, FooForce can help you make sure your security and your reputation are not compromised.