Safeguards to Put in Place Before You Begin on Your Personal Brand

shutterstock_203978866 Social media management tool Buffer highlights the benefits of a personal brand including a steady stream of clients, leadership opportunities and higher perceived values among others. And according to the 2015 State of Social Media Marketing by Regalix, 94 percent of marketers who use social media say increasing brand awareness is a key objective.

Creating a personal brand can be an exciting albeit overwhelming venture. But after the URLs are secured and the business is up and running, few entrepreneurs safeguard their security and identity. What’s at stake? Your name, reputation and finances could be at risk without proper protection and security layers in place. Here’s how to get started.

Create a Back-up Plan

While it’s important to put safety measures in place to protect your identity online, you may need some outside help to monitor it for you. Look to a protection service to help monitor for identity theft before it’s too late. Keep tabs on your credit for suspicious activity. And educate yourself about how identity theft occurs, how to safeguard yourself and how such crimes are prosecuted.

Regularly Change Passwords

Account hacking is all too prevalent and is made easier by oversharing personal information online. Use a password generator from a site like Norton Antivirus to create a strong combination of letters, numbers and symbols that will keep your accounts secure. Change your password every few months. It’s tempting to use one password for a multitude of accounts, but it’s not a wise choice. A hack into one account can have a disastrous effect on everything else from your email to banking information.

Check Your Security Settings

Social media channels like Facebook have options to change your privacy and security settings. If you’ve never changed your settings, your photos, videos and personal posts may be easily searchable on Google and other online search engines. This may not seem like a big deal, but employers, businesses and future clients can simply Google your name and easily find a wide array of information about you. So if you don’t want people to know about your kids’ behavioral issues, either don’t post about it or change your privacy settings now.

Secure Vanity URLs

A vanity URL is a branded web address. For those with unique names, obtaining these is a simple process. For people named Smith or Johnson, the process can be methodical. For example, online advertising company Wordstream has to compete with Wordstream Technologies, Wordstream Publishing, and Wordstream the game when registering vanity URLs. Protect a personal brand by picking up customized addresses for all social media platforms — especially Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Many don't know this is an option for Facebook but login and go to http://www.facebook.com/username/ and check the availability of a name. Also check service sites like Fiverr for similar usernames. Part of protecting yourself is eliminating any confusion that results when people search for you. To ensure consistency, make sure your personal name or business name is the same across the board. Don't use a nickname one place and your full name another place, same goes for abbreviations or shortened versions of your brand's name.

It's smart to sign up for Google Alerts for different variations of your brand or name. This way, you'll know when others are talking about you or if your reputation is in trouble and you need to jump in with some good PR.

Encrypt Your Data

Have you ever noticed URLs often start with either http or https? The latter means the site is encrypted and secured. This is important if you want to submit personal information online for a loan, a questionnaire or make a purchase. You can also look for a lock symbol at the right side of the address bar or bottom left of your browser. Only sending your personal information over an encrypted site can mean the difference between your privacy and the world gaining access to your address, credit card number and financials.

Backup Your Data

There are countless systems that will automatically backup your laptops, tablets and other devices. A cloud service can regularly back up all your files, photos and other media without having to do a thing once you set it up. If your devices are ever stolen, you’ll still have access to your files. And if you have an iPhone, you can access your device remotely on iCloud.com and wipe it clean without worrying about losing your files.

Samantha Ortiz