Microsoft Canada Co.

Microsoft Canada Co.

November 05, 2007 08:00 ET

Image is Everything: Expert Says Crucial for Canadians to Better Manage Their Online Identities

MSN Canada / Ipsos-Reid survey reveals four in ten Canadians don't know how to use the Internet to promote themselves or their careers

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 5, 2007) - Three in ten Canadians are hoping to use the Internet to take their careers to the next level while one quarter admit that they already have used the internet to promote themselves for personal or professional gain, according to an MSN Canada / Ipsos-Reid survey released today. Additionally, two in ten acknowledge they have carefully constructed a message and personal brand strategy while four in ten admit they do not know how to use the Internet to promote themselves or their careers. The survey concluded that a majority of Canadians believe they are conscious of their image in the public domain. Three quarters responded that they're aware of the impact online activities can have on their image, a relationship that women (81%) are more likely to be aware of than men (70%).

Email aliases are usually the front-line form of online representation. Almost 80% of Canadians would describe one of their email aliases as 'personal' - a variation of their name, a nickname or personality trait, whereas 23% would describe their alias as 'professional', including their name or the name of their workplace. Finally, nearly 10% have chosen an alias linked to their 'community', as it reflects a personal interest or hobby.

By region, Quebecers are the most likely to be aware of how their online activities impact their reputation compared with the rest of Canada. In fact, almost a quarter of those in Quebec would use the Internet for self-promotion and more than half have searched the Internet for their name.

Building the YOU Brand Online

According to Mitch Joel, an expert in personal branding in the digital space and President of Twist Image - a Montreal-based Digital Marketing Agency, the survey findings raise many red flags about how Canadians manage their online identities.

"As our use of the Internet evolves, our online identities are becoming more important than ever before," says Joel. "Everyone is an individual brand - the 'you' brand. If managed incorrectly, this can have negative consequences when it comes to getting a job, advancing your career or maintaining a positive reputation. This survey reveals to me that many Canadians are at risk of not managing their personal brands."

As Web 2.0 continues to evolve and companies like MSN unveil the next generation of their online services, managing your online identity is even more crucial for Canadians - especially as one of the country's most popular online communication services (including Windows Live Hotmail & Windows Live Messenger) continue to integrate more with their everyday experiences.

"This survey shows us that Canadians are ready for more sophisticated online communications. They want to use the web to connect with friends and colleagues and to share their lives and experiences digitally," says Sumeet Khanna, Director of Windows Live, Microsoft Canada. "Microsoft is making it easier for Canadians to do this with the next generation of Windows Live."

Joel recommends the following tactics to help Canadians harness the power of the Internet and develop strong personal brands - be it with acquaintances or in a professional context:

- The majority of Canadians (85%) avoid putting personal information about themselves on the Internet with the goal of protecting their privacy and reputation but Joel says if you're not online, you're not being a proactive advocate of your personal brand. Make sure you are hands-on and search your name frequently.

- Two thirds (67%) of Canadian email users indicate that they have multiple email addresses. Joel says that to protect your privacy but still be visible, you should use consistent personal information in all online activities such as the same photo and email alias for all your accounts. The idea is to become recognizable across many channels. Think of it like a corporate logo.

- A quarter of Canadians said they use a fun word in their email alias that reflects an interest or hobby, while one in eight use a fun name to represent their desired online image. Joel says you should NEVER do this. What happens when "skaterboy" grows up? Choose your name or a similar ID when Microsoft rolls out the new email addresses for Windows Live Hotmail. . The representations we extend today could be there in 10 years so be cautious of the ways you use the Internet.

- Fewer than 5% of Canadians say that they would change their email alias if they could get their first request. Joel suggests Canadians reconsider this. Own an email alias that features your name as opposed to a vague variation of it and keep this ID consistent across all your email accounts.

Canadians can visit to sign up for a free Windows Live ID, their passport to this seamless online experience. Stay tuned for new domain names for Windows Live Hotmail.

The online poll of 1,011 Canadians was conducted from October 9 to 12, 2007. For more information about the methodology, please visit

About Windows Live™ and Sympatico / MSN

Sympatico / MSN is Canada's most popular online destination, with more than 19.8 million unique visitors(1) experiencing its information and communication services each month. Offered in a strategic alliance between Bell Sympatico and Microsoft, brings together Bell Sympatico's Web content and broadband services with popular web services for MSN, including Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Spaces and Live Search. The site gives Canadians easy access to the tools and services they love to use. Bell Sympatico is Canada's leading Internet service provider and delivers exclusive content to Sympatico High Speed Internet service subscribers, while Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Spaces are the country's most used instant messaging, web-based email service and social networking services.

(1)(comScore Media Metrix, August 2007)

Mitch Joel will be available to discuss the survey results today only.

Contact Information

  • To schedule an interview or for further information,
    please contact:
    High Road Communications
    Jessica Lee
    (416) 644-2297