It Turns Out Santa Isn't The Only One Who Knows Who's Naughty Or Nice

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In my never-ending quest to nurture the unique voice for this Six Pixels of Separation Blog, I’ve settled on two themes that run throughout my many years of putting thoughts to Blog:

1. Digital Marketing.

2. Personal Branding.

Alone, these are not unique, but where they intersect has been my true area of fascination. Everyday we’re seeing further proof that together, Digital Marketing and Personal Branding, is changing the landscape of Marketing and Communications as we know it. Companies first went online to uncover new communities and new Consumers. Now, in this age of Social Media, individuals are finding their own voices and building tremendous personal brands. The effects are being felt in nearly every department of every corporation. From Customer Service to Marketing, and from Legal to Product Development. An individual’s voice and access to audience through the Web is, literally, reshaping business as we know it.

We’re even paying more and more attention to who’s saying what about us. Just this week, Pew Internet And American Family Life Project released a fifty page-plus report entitled, Digital Footprints: Online Identity Management And Search In The Age Of Transparency.

Here’s one key finding:

"Internet users are becoming more aware of their digital footprint; 47% have searched for information about themselves online, up from just 22% five years ago."

It turns out that Santa isn’t the only one finding out who’s naughty or nice. It sounds like half of the Internet population is doing their own ego-surf to see what the score is.

The truth is, I’m surprised it’s not more than half of the online population.

And while this may, indeed, be a simple vanity search, managing your Personal Brand in the era of powerful Search Engines and our desires to connect through Online Social Networks is becoming more of a challenge and a huge necessity.

"Unlike footprints left in the sand at the beach, our online data trails often stick around long after the tide has gone out. And as more Internet users have become comfortable with the idea of authoring and posting content online, they have also become more aware of the information that remains connected to their name online.

Nearly half of all Internet users (47%) have searched for information about themselves online, up from just 22%, as reported by the Pew Internet Project in 2002. Younger users (under the age of 50) are more prone to self-searching than those ages 50 and older. Men and women search for information about themselves in equal numbers, but those with higher levels of education and income are considerably more likely to monitor their online identities using a search engine.

Just 3% of self-searchers report that they make a regular habit of it and 22% say they search using their name ‘every once in a while.’ Three-quarters of self-searchers (74%) have checked up on their digital footprints only once or twice.”

In reading the Digital Footprints: Online Identity Management And Search In The Age Of Transparency report, it may be easy to dismiss the statistics and information as a small fragment of the Online population. In reviewing the material, I think the opposite is true: this is the beginning phases of a trend that is leading towards a shift in Digital Marketing. It will affect what individuals say, do and publish online. As images, video and audio becomes more mainstream online (and more searchable), this will become ever more relevant. Through tagging and the combination of text, the research in this report indicates to me that managing your Personal Brand will become as important to you as brand management, marketing and communications is to a company.

Remember, I’m Googling you like you’re Googling me.

It’s not just Santa who has got a list.