Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reputation Management and Social Media

More than half of adult internet users, exactly 57%, mentioned that they have used a search engine to look up their name and see what information was available about them online, up from 47% who did so in 2006.

Young adults, far from being indifferent about their digital footprints, are the most active online reputation managers in several dimensions. For example, 71% of social networking users ages 18-29 have changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online.

Reputation management has now become a defining feature of online life for many internet users, especially the young. While some internet users are careful to project themselves online in a way that suits specific audiences, other internet users embrace an open approach to sharing information about themselves and do not take steps to restrict what they share.

“Search engines and social media sites now play a central role in building one’s identity online,” said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and lead author of the report, “Many users are learning and refining their approach as they go–changing privacy settings on profiles, customizing who can see certain updates and deleting unwanted information about them that appears online.”

When compared with older users, young adults are more likely to restrict what they share and whom they share it with.

“Contrary to the popular perception that younger users embrace a laissez-faire attitude about their online reputations, young adults are often more vigilant than older adults when it comes to managing their online identities,” said Madden.

Overall, 13% of SNS users have requested an information takedown, but 20% of SNS users ages 18-29 have made such a request. By comparison, 8% of SNS users ages 30-49 have asked someone to remove information about them and 9% of SNS users ages 50 and older have done this.

Likewise, half of all SNS users (52%) say they have restricted what they share by keeping some people from seeing certain updates. This could include creating custom friend lists or blocking individual users from seeing certain updates or content. For this question, there was less variation among those under age 50. While 58% of SNS users ages 18-29 keep some people from seeing certain updates, 52% of those ages 30-49 do this, compared with 37% of SNS users ages 50-64.

Likewise, young adult SNS users are no less trusting of an array of other organizations, and are actually more trusting of news websites when compared with older SNS users. While 42% of SNS users ages 18-29 say you can “just about always” or “most of the time” trust news websites, only 32% of SNS users ages 50 and older express the same level of confidence. When asked about their levels of trust in other kinds of organizations—including large corporations, newspapers and television news, financial companies and websites that provide health information—young adult SNS users express views that are not significantly different than their elder SNS-using counterparts.

Searching, Following and Friending: How users monitor other people’s digital footprints online

Among the 69% of internet users who have searched for information about people in their lives, very few make a regular habit of it. Just 5% of these seekers of others say they search for information about other people on a regular basis, while 53% say they have done so only once or twice. Another 39% say they search for information about people “every once in a while.”

While young adult internet users ages 18-29 are somewhat less likely than older users to search for basic contact information, they are significantly more likely to search for social networking profiles and photos:
  • Contact information: 62% of people searchers ages 18-29 say they have searched for someone’s contact information, like an address or phone number, compared with 73% of those ages 30-49, and 74% of those ages 50-64.
  • Social networking profiles: 66% of people searchers ages 18-29 say they have searched for someone’s profile on a social or professional networking site, while 51% of those ages 30-49 and 31% of those ages 50-64 say this.
  • Photos: 61% of people searchers ages 18-29 say they have searched for someone’s photo online, compared with 43% of those ages 30-49 and 32% of searchers ages 50-64.

Americans are increasingly aware that online reputation matters, but the full scope of its influence is difficult to assess.

1 comment:

  1. That is exactly what everyone need to do to ensure good online reputation: search for themselves.