Many of us are online now, signing up to all sorts of online communities and creating multiple profiles.

In some cases, we’ve registered for so many sites that we don’t realise how large our digital footprint is. We lose track of the profiles we’ve created, the photos we’ve uploaded, the forums we’ve commented in. This can create problems. After all, who needs to have:

Digital housekeeping, anyone?
Digital housekeeping, anyone?
  • Forums hosting outdated information on you
  • Old friends or colleagues trying to email you via a non existent account
  • Google serving up outdated photos of you with a 90s perm or acid wash jeans?

So, in the spirit of Good Housekeeping magazine, I’ve compiled a little list of digital housekeeping tips, to keep you from spreading muddy footprints:

  1. Career: Changed your job title? Got a promotion? Have you completed another training course? Check your LinkedIn account and see if you can update it, or expand on your profile. You’re always changing – so should your LinkedIn.
  2. School : Are you on one of the school reunion sites, like FriendsReunited or SchoolFriends? Does that profile have your most recent information in there? Have you recently married or swapped careers?
  3.  Years: if you’re comfortable with sharing more information about yourself, but don’t want it to become quickly updated, write the content online in such a way that it doesn’t have to be annually updated. For example, don’t write “About to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary” or “We have an 18 month old son”. Use specific dates, “We were married in 2001” “Our son was born in 2005”.
  4. Facebook status: How often do you forget to ‘clear’ your Facebook status update? Notice that it sits there until you do? A Facebook status can date quite quickly. For example “Can’t wait for the weekend” is stale by Monday. [Unless of course that’s your permanent state of being].
  5. Polls and surveys:  New tools have made these fun and easy to create. But I know I’ve created a poll and forgot to ever return to it! Ensure it’s set so that you’re reminded when it closes; or manually put the date in your calendar.
  6. Bookmarking tools: If you’re anything like me, you come across a lot of great sites and articles online. Remember to bookmark them in Delicious, Digg, or whatever your favourite bookmarking site is. With Delicious, I’ve downloaded the toolbar, so I only have to press CTRL+D to add a page to my Delicious account. Quick and easy. Otherwise, this great tool can stagnate.
  7. Twitter lists: For most twitterers, our follow list grows regularly. If you use Twitter lists, remember to keep them up to date. (And while you’re there: check your profile to see what lists you’ve been added to).
  8. Google yourself:  I know, it seems vain. But it’s sound practice. Google your name, see what comes up. It may remind you of old profiles you need to update, or news articles you want to refer to in your LinkedIn profile or blog. (Also check Google images – you may be surprised by what you find).
  9. And of course … Changed your relationship status? Do you need to update this on Facebook? (Or is that better left for an awkward conversation between you and your new/ex love interest?)

Above all, make sure each and every one of your accounts has a current email address for you. Email alerts are crucial to keep you in touch with what’s happening on the plethora of platforms you’ve signed up to. And here’s some other management tips, in the event that you ever get run over by a bus:

  • If you’re managing a profile or platform on behalf of your company, or another organisation, make sure you’re not the only administrator. Share access details, share management tips.
  • Have you got a Will? Think about your digital profiles. What happens to them if you die? Perhaps leave passwords saved in a safe place. Write some notes for your family: what would you like them to do with your Facebook profile or FlickR page if you weren’t around?  Would you like them to write to your followers and friends .. or shut the page down? Would you like any of it saved for future generations to pore over? It might become part of your family history (or not).

What are your favourite ways to manage your digital footprint?