You may be wondering: what is online image management, and why is it important? In the technological world of today, the internet is a vast database full of easily accessible information. Researching information is as easy and as simple as typing information into a search engine. This is why managing your image is vital to your success. How you are perceived online will either lead to the rise or fall of your objective.

Understand why you are online in the first place

Sometimes leaping before you look is the right thing to do, but more often than not, you’ll just end up somewhere you didn’t plan to be. Before you commit serious time or resources to any venture, but especially online, fully lay out and analyze your goals.

What are you seeking to accomplish by growing your online presence? It is important to have a plan and know exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish by being online. Are you trying to reach out for activism? Are you trying to push conservative ideas and policies?

Understanding your goal and knowing what is appropriate and conducive to positive online image management will build the platform for success. Answering these questions will help you figure out which platforms are most important and help you plan more effectively.

Figure out who you’re trying to talk with

Social media, and really the internet in general, is a never ending conversation. Knowing who will be listening and who you should target is vital to the success of your online image management.

Ask yourself the question: who am I trying to reach? After understanding your target audience, create content that will appeal to your audience and will increase engagement with them. The audience must feel connected and feel that you are authentic.

Remember, that this is a conversation. The internet isn’t just a soapbox we can use to yell louder. Reply to comments, ask questions, and initiate conversation with people. Treat those conversations just like you would any conversation in person and you’ll see much more success reaching audiences that matter.

Don’t try to photoshop your soul

We all want to present the best version of ourselves, but that can’t be a fake person. Too often people get caught up trying to pretend they live a life they don’t online. Be the same person online as you are in person.

Don’t exaggerate your experiences, knowledge, or accomplishments. Eventually someone will find out and your credibility will be thrown out of the window. Never steal the work of others or fake things that didn’t happen.

The shortcuts aren’t worth it and ultimately won’t help your cause.

Not all websites are created equally

When using social media, do not treat all social media alike. This will seem repetitive and will lead to confusion and a lack of followers.

Facebook is will be used as the flagship site for pushing out content to be seen by many people. To be successful, you must use video and picture content in an attempt to increase engagement and sharing between your followers and their friends.

With Twitter, you must create a niche for yourself. You must focus on a few topics for your users to follow on a consistent basis. Broadening your topics, to encompass too many things, will make it harder for your followers to keep up with content that they wish to see. Also, look like you know what you are talking about. You need your followers to feel confident in you and your message. To do so, your profile will need: to have a popular tweet pinned, a descriptive biography‒ as well as, use of your own name as the twitter handle.

Lastly, you will need to utilize LinkedIn. LinkedIn is focused on professionalism, this is to be used as a means of resume boosting and brand promotion. Posting on this site should be strictly limited to topics pertaining to yourself or your brand.

Don’t make unforced errors

The internet is forever and there are no secrets, remember this before you decide to post anything online. Think about the repercussions that it may cause further down the road.

Ask yourself, will this hinder or facilitate a positive image? Can my thoughts and posts be used against me? Learning to choose your own battles, and to know when and how to respond will prove to be pivotal to your success. You will need to understand that not all criticism needs a response.

A quick sarcastic joke or meme might seem lighthearted to you, but could reflect on you poorly in the future. The impulse to be funny immediately, most prominent on Twitter, has claimed many jobs, ruined opportunities, and caused much more trouble than it’s worth. Take a moment before you pull the trigger and consider the outcomes.

Get started today

There’s no time like the present to get to work. Understanding that social media and the internet can easily make or break your image is why online image management is important. You need to be in control of your image and know that what you post or how you respond can influence others perspective about you.

A positive online image will lead to success and greater positive engagement for your message. For a more indepth look at online image management, please watch Mike Morrison’s webinar.