Often, I hear parents say “I don’t want my kid to be online since they might get tagged in a photo and their online reputation might badly spiral out of control. By keeping them offline, I feel like I can manage that risk until we are ready to be online.”
Social media tags are a very real concern, but it is not the way Google works to manage your online reputation. Thinking that your teen is safe if they are not on social media is a misconception that may be hurting your student’s chances of getting into their dream school.
Students being tagged in photos is not the real concern. In fact, keeping your student off of social media could actually hurt their online image for college admissions and future employers. The biggest safety concern is when other people with similar names create content that can hurt your student’s online image (as opposed to your student’s friends tagging them in photos).
Google doesn’t focus on social tags
Someone who creates a fake Facebook account under my name might hurt my reputation more than someone tagging me in their fun weekend post.
Google doesn’t seem to care about or pick up Facebook and Instagram tags. Google isn’t as interested in what you’re student is being tagged in, they are interested in the content your student actually creates (not what others create and tag your student in on social media).
This means someone who creates Facebook.com/joshuaochs or a fake Facebook account under my name might hurt my reputation more than someone tagging me in their fun weekend Facebook post.
Other social media accounts with similar names can be prevalent in search results
Google only pays attention to what the names of major social accounts are.
Google is interested in social media accounts under your student’s name. This is because no one knows who your student is, Google only pays attention to what the names of major social accounts are. Other people might be blogging/posting/creating accounts under names that are similar to your student’s real name. There may be several other people out there who have similar names to your student (and their accounts could be indexed by Google instead of your student’s).
These “evil twins” that I mention in my new book Light Bright and Polite for Professionals are the people who are going to come up in your student’s Google results.
There are so many accounts for Google to index, they don’t care (as much, at this time) about people tagging your student online.
Don’t let negative Google results hurt your student’s chances at their dream school
The first page of Google is all that college admissions and employers have to make sure your student is who they say they are.
You’re probably saying “Ohh, I Googled my student, but that woman who came up is in her 20s and doesn’t look like my sweet angel. My daughter is only 17, they clearly will know the difference.”
Do you think a college is going to know what your daughter/son looks like? Do you think they have time to go and research every student online to make sure they have the right Twitter/Instagram/Blog? Unfortunately, the first page of Google is all that college admissions and employers have to make sure your student is who they say they are. If terrible results come up (or even one of them that looks suspicious) then your student’s application/resume might get put in the “maybe” file. This is the stack of resumes they will come back to when they have more time.
Do you think they will have more time to come back and carefully search for your student? Probably not, since there are thousands of applicants for each position and major.
Follow these 3 steps to ensure that your student is building a positive online image for their dream school and future employers
- Audit your student online to see what results are out there Start with Google and see what comes up under your student’s first and last name. Then, add the school name and city name where you live. Join Footprint Friday to have these results automatically sent to your inbox each week.
- Dialog with your student about their dream college/career
- Create content that lets your student shine online for those dream schools on Google
Ask your student: Have you thought about where you want to go to college? Let’s google some college names. Have you thought about what career you might enjoy when you are older? What colleges are known for that career and where might you want to attend?
Let your student pick the answers to these questions and guide them along the way.
Show your student the Google audit (or Footprint Friday) results you have and ask them “how can we improve this?” Work with them to build out some positive social media accounts that show off their skills in a way Google might love. Pick up a copy of my book Light, Bright and Polite for Parents/Teens to learn more.