giftofsocialmediI wrote an article for Huffington Post, Your Online Reputation Doesn’t Take the Holidays Off.  Why?  Because I was browsing Facebook one day and stunned at what people will share – or should we say – overshare.

It isn’t only photos – there are videos that can be questionable too.

Since it is the holidays and it can be a time of gift giving, there are some people that are difficult to buy for.

With teens especially it can a struggle – besides all those tech gadgets, the list can be limited – unless your budget includes a new car.

Giving the gift of digital presence is priceless.  Helping to give your teen a digital lift into their virtual life is a great way to showcase their talents, hobbies, interests and other attributes. By the way, it’s great for their college admissions too.

Have you considered giving a friend or relative a gift of digital presence?

Do you have a friend or relative that is unemployed and could maybe use a digital lift?

As a victim of online defamation, I know firsthand what it is like to struggle with a tarnished virtual image.  Fortunately many people haven’t gone through the malicious attacks I have been through – but today the slightest scarring on your virtual resume can potentially eliminate you as a job candidate.

Don’t be fooled – not having a digital footprint can be just as risky.

It’s simply part of today’s world:  Surveys are showing higher percentages of employers are performing Internet searches on a job applicants name and finding reasons not to hire people due to their social media behavior or hire them because of their social media presence.

In either situation, you need to be in control of your online image.

Learning how to manage your online reputation is not difficult, but can be time consuming.

The first step is simply setting up your Google Alerts – which many people know already, but have neglected to do.  This gives you an alert when information is posted about you.

Next you need to start building your online presence – your digital real estate.

Whether it is a website, free blogs (through WordPress or Blogger), and signing up for free social media networks – such as Facebook, LinkedIn,, Google+, etc…. you need to be proactive in building your digital image.

Most important is keeping it truthful, consistent, and current.  Be active – be engaged – be interested and interesting!  Remember be kind.  Your social media behavior is also being judged.

Does all this seem overwhelming?

Just add your name!

Just add your name!

This is where the gift of online reputation comes in.  Back in 2006 I was fortunate to meet one of the pioneers in online reputation management world. They literally saved my career and my online life. In 2006 we didn’t have the world of social media that we have today. It was built on blogs and websites – today, you have a smorgasbord of social platforms to build on!

In addition to all the social media that we know the kids have for free, consider buying your teen (or niece, nephew or friend) a URL of their name, it’s very cost effective. GoDaddy has them as little at $7.99. Building their own website can help them in creating their brand for who they are – including their interests, community service events, sports and more. Hosting is another reasonable fee to launch their site. The best part is each year thereafter – you can renew this gift as their holiday present!

It’s part of our life now. Your digital impression will most likely be the first impression someone knows about you – let’s make it a good one. Start ranking your website and virtual real estate this holiday season.

Keep in mind – your digital behavior is a priority on all platforms, from blogs to Twitter to Facebook or Instagram — even Snapchat which you believe vanishes….. always pause before you publish anything on any screen, including zipping a text message off – just stop, before you hit send. Read it. Read it again. It’s listed under my 5-E’s of Social Etiquette…. Exhibits… could it ever come back to haunt you as an exhibit in court?

Sure, sounds extreme, but it won’t if you’re ever a victim of a sexting scandal or anything that involves people taking your computers or devices for your messages or emails. It’s not about thinking anymore, it’s literally pausing and stopping before you press that send key.