Online Reputation and its Real World Implications

Being a blogger often means you put yourself out there, sometimes taking controversial positions on issues.  You accept the criticisms levied and deal with things as professionally as you can in the online world.

You have to realize what you say online becomes part of your online reputation.  While some hide behind a pseudonym there is no anonymity when you want to become a professional blogger.  We build our authority by what we say online.  We gain trust and credibility by how we interact in the social arena.

These things become our online legacy or online reputation, some of which have real world implications.

I live in the small Canadian province of Newfoundland with a population around 500,000.  The “city” closest to me has approximately 22,000 people.

My online reputation precedes me and has followed me into the real world community.

People see me as a blogger, someone who is opinionated and vocal.  I have been labelled me solely based upon what people have seen me say or write online.  It has cost me business clients.  People are hesitant to meet with me.  I’ve even had a local auto dealership refuse to sell me a vehicle because I blogged about their poor service.

My online reputation is important to me but I struggle with how to deal with things when it affects my real world interactions.

How does one manage their online reputation to prevent this?

Online reputation management generally involves monitoring what is said about you, your brand or your business on the Internet.  It is addressing concerns and mitigating negative results showing up in search rankings.

It becomes a little more difficult when your online reputation carries over into the real world.  People form opinions and just like in the online social world, they talk and share those opinions within their social circles.

People categorize you more quickly without taking time to get to know you.  People believe you hold certain political views when you challenge election candidates on environmental issues, call you a difficult customer when you demand better service or label you a troublemaker because you stand up for those less fortunate.

People think they “know” you because of what you write in your blog or by what you say online but they never ask or learn about the factors that motivate you as a blogger.  They never see the countless hours you put in volunteering.  They never hear about the thousands of dollars you donate to charity.  They never see the lives you change because you truly care about what’s going on about you.

Finding the balance is not an easy thing but being aware of our online reputation and its implications in real world settings has to be front and centre.

While this may be difficult at times, remaining objective while writing and avoiding emotional rants can help.  It won’t always be possible to avoid controversy regardless of how hard we try.

Keep in mind irony and sarcasm doesn’t always translate well in the online world.  Attempts at making a joke or a comment meant to be taken in fun can result in major backlash.

Before posting that article or sending that Tweet try to step back and think about things.  How will your post be perceived?  Is it riddled in controversy?  Is it likely to be misinterpreted?  Does the comment add value to the conversation?  Will it offend your readers and damage your credibility?

The important part is to remain professional, do what you can to protect how you are perceived online and be proactive in dealing with online issues that spill out into your real world life.

What’s your thoughts?  Have you had your online reputation affect your real world?

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About Barry Wheeler

Barry Wheeler is a blogger, novice SEO, geek and passionate Newfoundlander. Operating several successful websites and online communities, Barry has started exploring the social internet and its impact on all facets of society including personal life and business relationships. Find Barry on Twitter @barrywheeler and FaceBook or on his website Barry Wheeler - Blogging for Success.
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