When digital media is the way of the world, an online reputation is almost as important as a first impression. As we perfect our social media profiles, we do so with the intention of gaining respect and attention. All too often, however, we make avoidable mistakes that are potentially damaging and find it difficult to rectify those mistakes.
A good social media profile possesses certain items such as a straightforward image that could be used professionally or candidly. Due to the fact that cyber-vetting is a real threat, consider whether or not you’d like your future boss, clergy member, or even worse, your parents to see what you’re posting. Social media does not exist in a vacuum, and it spreads like wild fire.
There are certain dos and don’ts when it comes to both professional and personal social media success.
DO maintain an image you would be proud to represent in public. This means don’t post anything you wouldn’t publicly say or do. Posting pictures of yourself drinking copiously and heading to your child’s daycare the next day may have negative ramifications. Be prepared to deal with the fallback if you’re willing to represent a particular image.
DON’T be a jerk. Nobody likes the opinionated person that simply chooses to spew vitriol or negativity on your own profile or on other people’s upbeat status updates. A friend of mine was asked to stop posting statuses about his faith in God simply because it made someone uncomfortable. Be careful what you’re saying to others, you never know what connections they may have that YOU may sometime need.
DO be honest. Don’t pad your social media profiles to make you sound more impressive. If a prospective employer is checking your profiles, imagine the confusion you could be causing by fibbing to impress your friends. Honesty is always the best policy, even if it means that your profile isn’t all that special. In your pursuit of honesty, however, don’t the “filterless” person
DON’T post inappropriate pictures and expect to garner respect. If you want to post pictures of a fun wine trail weekend with your girlfriends, that is fantastic and will most likely get a great deal of attention from your audience or friends. Posting a photo of you tipping back a bottle of wine, sans glass, may have a more negative connotation. Save those photos for a quiet night at home. The world doesn’t need to see that.
DO be approachable. This is an important concept, especially in using social media for your business. People buy from people they have a connection with, so make the connection. Post a photo of the family dog, a candid selfie of your team, or a work luncheon. This allows you to come across as relatable, and people like being able to relate to someone with whom they’re doing business.
DON’T use social media as your profanity outlet. Once again, this goes back to the whole issue of reputation management. Playing it fast and loose with the profanity in your social media posts may come back to bite you. Before posting, ask yourself a couple of questions; would you speak that way in public, would you want someone you hold dearly to hear you speaking that way or would you react negatively to the same type of post?
DO educate yourself. What do you know about proper privacy settings? Do you know what options there are for your LinkedIn profile? How difficult is it to block a heckler on Twitter? Knowing the answers to these questions allows you to be better prepared for both personal and professional social media efforts. If someone is managing your social media, the possibility exists that they’ll know about these things, but personal knowledge is incredibly important as well.
DON’T make all of your business public. If you’re having a difficult time in your relationship, no one else needs to know. There are some things that are best kept private. The influx of social media has increased the amount of information to which people have access, but that doesn’t mean we need to know EVERYTHING. Transparency is key, but too transparent can a bad thing. Constant changing of your relationship status can make you seem wishy-washy, and that sends a very bad message.
If you’re making any of the above referenced mistakes, chances are you are unaware of the potentially damaging nature or negative effect that your social media may have on your future. While many prospective employers claim that they do not vet employees by checking their social profiles, a great many of them Google candidates. Pay attention to what’s being put out there by you and by your peers.