Monday, September 15, 2014


Tips for Managing Your Web Identity


Soon, a time will come, when your Digital Footprint will carry more weight than what you write on your resume.

I am sure you know the meaning of the term “DIGITAL FOOTPRINT”.

Your digital footprint is the record or trail left by all the things you do online on the internet.

Your Digital Footprint includes all your Social Media activity (on Social Networking Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc), your Blogging and Online Writing, all information about you on the internet, on various websites, your browsing history, your online subscriptions, any photo galleries and videos you have uploaded or others have uploaded about you — essentially, anything on the Internet with your name on it.

Anything you post, tweet, comment or “like” (or what others post about you) is going down as a permanent record in cyberspace on your digital footprint.

In a nutshell, your digital footprint is everything on the internet that is about you.

Since you rarely think twice about putting things online, your digital footprint can be pretty large and extensive without you even realizing it.

Have you ever “Googled” yourself?

An easy way to check out your digital footprint is to “Google” your name and you will be amazed when you see number of hits and the extensive and diverse information about you on the internet.


In today’s world you have two reputations:

1. OFFLINE REPUTATION (in the physical real world)

2. ONLINE REPUTATION (in the virtual world or cyberspace)

Unless you are a celebrity, your “offline reputation” is restricted and known to only those persons in your proximity, at work, in your social circles and personal life.

However, your “online reputation” is all pervasive and is available for scrutiny by anyone throughout the world who has access to the internet.

If I want to know about you, all I have to do is to “google” your name or search your details on websites, search engines or social networks.

Potential employers, or prospective spouses, or those desirous of getting into a relationship with you, can easily carry out a basic background check on you by just surfing the internet.

(Earlier, before the advent of the internet, you had to ask some mutual acquaintance or make discreet inquiries or hire a detective to find out information about somebody)

The fact of the matter is that, in today’s connected world, your online reputation is easily accessible and matters more than offline reputation.

In the same way that your personality (real-world offline identity) is important for your offline reputation, your online identity plays an important role in determining your online reputation.


Your online identity consists of two things:

1. What you say about yourself on the internet (your “Owned Identity”)

2. What others say about you on the internet (your “Earned Identity”)

Your OWNED IDENTITY comprises whatever information you upload on the internet.

Your owned identity will comprise so many things like:

1. Whatever you upload on social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter etc including your profiles, pictures, photos, status reports, tweets, comments – anything and everything you upload about yourself.

2. Your Blogs

3. Your Websites (personal, professional and company)

4. All your writings and postings on the web which you post on the internet on various websites, online journals and e-magazines, forums, networks, groups, emails, documents, presentations – anything and everything you put on the internet.

5. Various “profiles” and “avatars” you create on the web – like, for example, your profiles on job search sites and matrimonial sites.

To put it metaphorically, your owned identity is like having a permanent tattoo – it can never be fully erased.

Your EARNED IDENTITY is what others “say” about you on the internet.

Your earned identity includes:

1. Information about you on Social Networking Sites like postings about you on Facebook by your friends (status, tags, pictures, photos, comments), recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn, Re-tweets and Mentions of your Tweets on Twitter etc

2. Articles, Blog Posts, Wikis, Biographical Writings etc written about you which are available on the internet (these are things written about you by others  what you write about yourself on the internet becomes a part of your owned identity)

3. Various “profiles” created by others about you at various places on the web.

4. Various networks and websites that link to you

5. Miscellaneous information about you available on the internet – for example, your examination results uploaded online by your university, education board, UPSC etc or results of job selection interviews promulgated online.

To use a metaphor, your earned identity is like “branding” where a permanent mark is stamped on you by someone else.


Your “owned identity” is in your control.

You must be circumspect about what you put on the internet as even a small slip-up like an injudicious writing, indiscreet photo, imprudent relationship status update or careless comment has the potential of harming your reputation in future.

Your “earned identity” is not in your control.

Sometimes, this matters more, since people may be curious to find out what others have to say about you than what you say about yourself.

Even if you avoid the internet altogether, you cannot avoid having an “earned identity” since someone else may upload some writing or material about you on the web, especially if you are a celebrity or remain in the news for something or the other.

That is why famous people, like ancient philosophers and writers, who lived much before the advent of internet, have “earned identities” and consequently they have “online reputations”.

So remember, going offline and avoiding the internet is not the solution.

In today’s information technology driven connected world, you cannot afford to bury your head in the sand like an ostrich and live in denial.

You cannot avoid an online reputation.

Whether you like it or not, whether you use internet or not, you will have an online reputation.

So, it is in your interest to be aware of your digital footprint, web identity and online reputation and try your best to manage these to your advantage.


Do a simple experiment.

Just “google” your name and see the results of the search.

What are the top few results?

How many “hits” pertain to your “owned reputation” ?

How many “hits” pertain to your “earned reputation” ?

Which “hits” appear on top?

If you want to manage your online reputation you must ensure that links pertaining to “owned reputation” (what you say about yourself) appear as the top search results as compared to “earned reputation” (what others say about you).

As far as your online reputation is concerned, what you say about yourself (owned reputation) must have more prominence than what others say about you (earned reputation).

Remember that your “owned identity” and “owned reputation” are in your control because you can always control what to say about yourself on the internet.

But your “earned identity” and “earned reputation” may not be in your full control since you cannot control what others say about you on the internet.

Therefore, in a nutshell, if you want to control your online reputation, you will have to “say” more about yourself on the internet than others “say” about you.

How do you do this?

It is simple.

Get active on the internet – blog regularly, tweet vigorously, and maintain a dynamic presence on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Quora etc and various Forums and groups, and make sure you network effectively.

You must be conscious of your online reputation.

With the proliferation of the internet, your “online reputation” will overshadow your “offline reputation”.

Remember, if someone wants to do a background check on you, for whatever reason, to hire you for a job, to check you out as a marriage prospect, or they just want to find out more about you, all they have to do is to “google” your name, and then ingeniously delve a bit and explore your online identity (web shadow) and discover your online reputation – yes, all that will matter is your online reputation.

It is, therefore, imperative that you establish an effective web presence and be proactively conscious of your digital footprint, web identity and online reputation.

You must be careful to build a good online reputation and make constant efforts to monitor your digital footprint and manage your online reputation.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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These are my personal views. I am not an IT Professional or SEO Expert. I am a simple internet user, a Blogger and user of Social Networks. These tips are based on my personal experience. They may or may not work for you, so please do your own due diligence while using the internet.

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No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT Tips for Building and Managing Your Web Identity By VIKRAM KARVE on this blog at url:

1 comment:

Ajay Kumar said...

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