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7 Tools to Track Your Digital Footprint and Shadows

  |  May 11, 2011   |  Comments

These free tools will help you understand and enhance what image you are projecting online.

Privacy is dead. This became apparent when I was writing my book "Socialnomics." What we upload about ourselves comprises our digital footprint. What others upload about us is our digital shadow.

Below are a few listening tools to help put your best digital foot forward and track your digital shadow. How do you or your brand look online? Review the below free tools often to understand and enhance what image you are projecting online.

Google Search: Do what is called a "vanity search." Type your name into Google and see the search results. Do the same on Bing. If you live in China, do this on Baidu.

Vanity searches show the digitally good, bad, and ugly around your personal brand. There is an "advanced search tab" next to the search field. If you click on this advanced tab, you can narrow searches for the city or country where you live.

If you have the same name as a famous person or place, you can narrow your search by including "negative keywords." For example, if your last name is "Paris," then you enter negative keywords such as "Hilton," "City," "France," and "Hotel." This will screen out thousands of responses that are of no interest to you.

Google Alerts: Sign up for Google Alerts for keywords of interest to you (e.g., your name), and you will receive an alert message from Google every time your name appears on the web. You can set these alerts daily, weekly, or monthly. I recommend weekly.

LinkedIn: Get your profile on LinkedIn to 100 percent complete. LinkedIn indicates that those with a complete profile are 40 percent more likely to receive a job interview request. Even if you aren't looking for a job, LinkedIn is a very powerful tool for developing your digital footprint.

In the upper right of your profile, LinkedIn indicates your completion percentage and what items are missing to get to 100 percent. You should also hit "public view" to see what your profile looks like to other viewers and search engines.

Facebook: Ever wonder what your Facebook profile looks like to one of your friends? To see what they see, go to your Account Menu -> Privacy Settings -> View Settings -> Preview My Profile. This will show you what the general public sees and you can also enter a specific friend's name to see how it appears to them.

Facebook Friendship Pages: Do you keep old photo prints, letters, and mementos? Friendship Pages are similar in concept. They let you see your entire friendship history with an individual on Facebook. This includes wall posts, photos, video, events you attended together, and more. Go to a Friends Profile -> See Friendship. This will bring up a page devoted to just the two of you.

Twitter Search: Even if you don't use Twitter, you can easily see what is being tweeted about you. Go to search.twitter.com and in the search field do a vanity search. Search your company name, product, or anything else you fancy.

Twitter is also categorized by "hashtags," which use the "#" symbol. So you may also do a search with a hashtag (e.g., #Egypt, #TimFerris, #Amazon, and #iPad). The hashtags act like conversation labels.

Blog: If you don't like what you see on Google or Bing, start to create content. The easiest way is to start a blog. I recommend using free software from WordPress.org, as it is easy to use and is the most popular platform. Post images, videos, and text that are important to you and that will reflect well upon you.


Erik Qualman

Called a Digital Dale Carnegie, Erik Qualman is the author of best sellers Socialnomics (2009) and Digital Leader (2011). Socialnomics made the #1 Best Sellers List in seven countries and was a finalist for "Book of the Year." Fast Company Magazine lists Qualman as a Top 100 Digital Influencer. He is a frequently requested international speaker and has visited 42 countries. He produced the world's most viewed social media video series and it has been used by NASA to the National Guard.

He has been fortunate to share the stage with Julie Andrews, Al Gore, Tony Hawk, Sarah Palin, Jose Socrates (Prime Minister of Portugal), Alan Mulally, and many others. For the past 17 years Qualman has helped grow the digital capabilities of many companies including Cadillac, EarthLink, EF Education, Yahoo, Travelzoo, and AT&T. He is also an MBA Professor at the Hult International Business School. Qualman holds a BA from Michigan State University and an MBA from The University of Texas. He was Academic All-Big Ten in basketball at Michigan State University and recently gave the commencement address at the University of Texas. He lives in Boston with his wife and daughter.

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