I am a true believer in the positive power of social media, but it does have its downsides. As the lines between our personal and professional lives get blurrier by the day in today’s digital world, you must take the appropriate steps to protect your brand after all of the work that you’re putting into strengthening it.

First off, Google yourself at least once per month. This provides you with valuable information about the content and photos that are available on the web about you as well as enables you to be in the know about what’s being said about you online – think of it as an online monitoring service for your brand. Pay special attention to the first page of results as most users do not go past those.

Then set up a Google Alert for yourself, a free service that sends you an e-mail notification when your name appears online (note, if you have a common name, the search results will not be perfect and you will need to manually sort through them). The more you publish content, speak at conferences and appear in the news such as if you are quoted in a third-party publication or on your firm’s web site, the stronger your positive search results will be and you will also look more like a commanding presence in your area. Note to all the legal marketers out there, I created Google Alerts for all of the partners at my firm that go to a mailbox each day that is regularly monitored by the marketing team. It is a great way to catch news items and clippings that you might otherwise have missed, and I have found that the Google Alert news hits the web very quickly.

What do you do if you want information about yourself removed online? If you don’t control it from your social accounts, you will have to contact the web sites to request removal of the content, which can be a time-consuming(and frustrating) process. Also, whether you like it or not, people are searching for you online, so ensure that the information visible on your personal social media accounts is locked down to only your friends and family, and be selective about from whom you accept friend requests.

Also, always use good judgment about what you post online because every and anything can be used against you somewhere down the line, even if you delete it (screenshots can come back to haunt you). And don’t ever post about politics because in today’s supercharged political climate, you just never on know how far left or right someone influential leans, so the best stance is take no stance. For more on this topic, see my article, “Why You Must Google Yourself Regularly and Protect Your Online Professional Brand.”