A digital footprint is a trace that you leave by what you post, share, search, and discuss on the Internet or social media. I think this is a great topic that needs to be discussed more often, especially with teens and young adults. As a marketing teacher, my students and I frequently discuss a company’s brand image and this is exactly the same as our own personal brand image. It is easy to post something that will end up being a regret. We see this with celebrities all the time! Although all of my social media accounts are private (except my teacher Twitter) I am still very careful as to what I post, even on my personal accounts. With today’s technology, a screen shot of a post could mean the end of your career, especially in the education world. Digital footprints are unavoidable and it is important to understand that even if you delete something, chances are someone saw it.
I believe that digital footprint also says a lot about you and the type of person that you are. Meaning to or not, we are constantly “judging” people by that they post through pictures and words and I would never want to give someone mixed ideas about the person that I really am. We have all heard the stories where student-athletes have lost scholarships for something that they have posted or people who have lost jobs because of similar posts. As professionals, we should be portraying ourselves as such. Many company’s first search is your name to see what type of results that they get. It only takes one iffy post for them to move on to the next job applicant.
This was not the first time that I have Googled myself. I was happy to see that the search still produced uneventful results. The first thing that shows up is my personal Twitter account. Then my LinkedIn page, learning log for Boise State, Google + account, and some YouTube videos I have made for grad assignments. Other results included links to things that I was involved in during high school or college such as athletics and activities and past results or awards. I also checked out the images to see what showed up. A few of my profile pictures and images from EdTech posts came up.
I am pleased to see that the Google results are things that I would not mind anyone seeing. It is so important that we constantly thinking before we post something. You never know who is looking or who someone knows. When in doubt, don’t post. It’s not worth the negative life image for 140 characters that you thought was going to be a good post.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Paul McClay.