Online reputation management is a critical concern among professionals, corporations, political figures, and celebrities—but as Brand.com reviews the high stakes that come with ORM, the company notes that teens, also, need to take their online footprint seriously. Brand.com is hardly alone in believing online reputation management to be a major issue facing teenagers. A recent article from DelawareOnline.com reveals that more and more teens are coming to realize just how important it is to take care of their online portrayals. Brand.com has released a new statement to the press, opining on the tricky topic of teen reputation management.
“There was a time in which teenagers did not have to worry about things like reputation—but sadly, those days are long behind us,” comments Brand.com president Michael Zammuto. “In today’s world, what people post to the Internet lasts forever, which means that if you make an ill-advised social media comment or post a compromising photo when you’re 16, it could come back to bite you when you’re a college graduate, seeking employment. Teens have no choice but to think about how their online reputation will impact their life a year, two years, even a decade down the road.”
While maintaining this level of responsibility may prove difficult for many teenagers, the DelawareOnline.com article makes clear that online reputation is something that concerns more or less everyone. “The stories are everywhere,” the article notes, including stories of “the waitress who lost her job after posting derogatory remarks about police at her restaurant; the celebrity who couldn’t seem to keep her clothes on in pictures she emailed; or the tweet from the automobile advertising executive about how people don’t know how to drive.”
Continues DelawareOnline.com, the lesson learned by all of these instances is that teenagers need to take great care in how they present themselves in the social media world; if they don’t, the consequences could prove dire.
The Social Media Minefield
The article goes on to affirm that social networking is an invaluable way to stay connected with friends and family members; with that said, social media sites can also be minefields, just waiting to be detonated by uncaring teens. “What might start as a tiny rant to friends could be viral by tomorrow,” the article notes. “Consequences can be anything from losing face to lost jobs or worse. Reputations now extend all the way to cyberspace – and once posted, items can be all but impossible to remove.”
Says Zammuto, “The permanence of the Internet is what makes it such a treacherous place for social media users—and for teens, in particular. An off-color joke or malicious blog post may seem harmless when you’re 15, but what happens when those comments emerge ten years down the road, when you’re applying for jobs? Future employers, and even college admissions counselors, are not going to care that you made the offending comments when you were just a kid. They’re going to see it as a red flag, and move on to other applicants.”
The DelawareOnline.com article goes on to make mention of Rebecca Lusk, a local beauty pageant winner and a role model to many teen girls. Lusk says she understands how social media posts can lead to misconceptions—noting that even an innocent misspelling can change the meaning of a post. She encourages young people to use discretion in the kinds of posts they allow on their social media sites, noting that she never allows pictures of herself holding a cup—lest she be made to look slovenly or drunk.
“On the Web, perception is reality, and sadly, if you’re a teen and you make irresponsible comments or simple, innocent mistakes, you may be perceived as a bad element,” says Zammuto. “It could cost you in terms of your academic and professional future.”
As for the ways in which parents and teachers can encourage kids to make smarter decisions regarding their online reputation, Zammuto says building awareness is the first step. “Brand.com reviews many efforts to educate kids about their online reputation, and we believe that such efforts are essential,” he comments.
The Delaware.com article indicates that many local schools are making reputation management training a priority. “Training is starting younger and younger these days,” it notes. “The Red Clay Consolidated School District starts teaching students about online safety, behavior and cyberbullying in elementary school.”
The President Of Brand.com Reviews The Importance Of Open Communication
Parents can play an important role in keeping their kids safe, as well. Zammuto recommends that moms and dads keep the lines of communication open with their teens. “Ask them, daily, about their social media and texting activity, ensuring that you know who they are talking to on social media sites, and what they are talking about,” he notes. Zammuto says that the only way for this to be effective is for parents to be equally candid and transparent. “Don’t be secretive about your own social media life, but rather, strive to be open as you set a good example for your kids.”
Zammuto also encourages parents to keep all computer use to public rooms of the house. “Obviously, teens can use their mobile devices in the bedrooms, at night, but parents should take whatever steps they deem necessary to keep all social media activity in the living room or the kitchen, not behind closed doors.”
The bottom line for Zammuto is that online reputation management is something that should begin as soon as social media use begins. “Every post and photo that you upload to the Web serves to build your online image—and as such, teens are encouraged to ensure that the image they are building is a positive one.”
Brand.com reviews the online reputation management and branding needs of clients from across the world—and indeed, Brand.com is widely regarded as the preeminent online reputation management firm in existence, known both for its heavy R&D investment as well as its proprietary strategies and methodologies. The company’s vision is to provide clients with total control over how they are portrayed on the Web; the firm’s client list, meanwhile, spans companies of all sizes, as well as celebrities, politicians, and individuals.