In my monthly Thoughts from Kagiso column (this being the first one) we will explore a number of subjects, some weird, some scholarly and others about communication, the media industry and about us as individuals.
I will attempt to delve into those subjects, which my friends and I explore, especially the contentious ones. I’ll also delve into those that make our industry tick – or not.
Today’s thought is around the idea of Googling oneself and being in control.
I often ask people whether they Google themselves and the reaction is normally an offended ‘no’, because they are not that vain!
Here’s the thing, you have to google yourself. Here’s why…
Do it primarily because there’s a multi-billion dollar personal data eco-system that keeps growing every milli-second of every day, charged by data from you. And secondly, do it because surely you want to know what your digital footprint looks like and figure out how to manage it?
Tracking your every move
Each time you press something on your devices, there is a data collection empire that monitors every step you take and intelligently uses this data to figure you out. You don’t have to physically fill in a form because location services, cloud storage, online purchases, e-readers, search history and public records are all tracking your every move.
Not to mention activity trackers and the Facebook challenges that we like. They also use cookie-syncing to follow you around the internet – this allows third parties to share browsing information at such a large scale that government agencies tap into this resource for surveillance purposes.
Smart speakers and wearables also increase the breadth of data that can be collected and analysed. Amazon and Google know this, that’s why they’ve filed for patents to mine audio recordings for keywords, making the technology so intelligent that advertisers can push products based on the keywords they pick up.
Facebook has not been left behind, they filed a patent to help insurance companies vet potential clients based on the credit ratings of their social network.
All this data makes the marketing research industry, data analysts, data brokers, data scientists and the new C-suite executive, the chief data officer, very happy people. It also makes people like me happy because I can use this data to remove the noise and intelligently hyper-target relevant content, messaging and product to specific people.
Every click you make
Given that every instant message, page click, and step one takes produces a data point that can be used to build a detailed profile of who you are, it’s an excellent reason why online activity needs to be managed and the protection of our reputation should be a deliberate act on our part.
So what… you ask?
South Africa is at a precipice, our leaders in business and politics, the entertainment community, the digital native, and you and I are under increased scrutiny through the proximity that digital platforms bring.
The question is, do you want to allow your online reputation to take on a life of its own or control the narrative? With the proliferation of social media and the gig economy, it has become essential for everyone to embrace taking control and Googling oneself.
Kagiso Musi is the group managing director of Meta Media South Africa, a new data-led media player in the country. She leads the Johannesburg and Cape Town offices with a list of blue-chip clients. The agency focuses on analysing and uncovering insights from the most granular forms of data and utilising that data to help clients win.
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