Social Media Profile Do’s and Don’ts

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If you’ve somehow managed to make it to 2015 without creating a Facebook, you probably already know you’re part of a rare and dying breed. If that’s not the case, then you fall in with the other 73% of internet users in the US who have a Facebook account. Choosing to be on social media has it’s obvious perks: users can keep up with people and organizations all over the world, they get faster access to news and they can share their day to day lives with people who they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. While all of that is great and has played a role in shaping our society to be the incredible, social, informational thing that it is today, we often don’t think about the dangers and downfalls of it’s use. The fact is, once you put something on the internet, it will be there forever. This is a potentially scary thought for those of us who are young professionals because now, employers don’t just have your resumes and interviews to go off of, they have your online profiles to look through too. Here are some social media do’s and don’ts for students and young professional:

Pictures:

DO: Before posting, ask yourself the following questions: 1) Would I be okay with my boss seeing this photo? 2) Would I want my mother/grandmother seeing this photo? Usually, if the answer is no to either of those, I won’t post because the reality is, they, as well as other unintended audiences, could end up seeing it. Once you post on the internet, it’s there for good.

DO: Untag yourself from any photos someone else adds of you that you don’t want appearing on your profile. It’s as simple as untagging yourself and then hiding the image from your profile.

DO: Alright, so you have a photo that you really want your friends to see but you would prefer not to share it with your boss or grandma. Well, if there are photos of that nature, make an album that blocks the access of those unwanted eyes. You can tailor the privacy settings of each album so only the people you want seeing your photos will be able to. This doesn’t mean they will never surface to those unintended audiences, but it is a precaution that can help.

DON’T: Avoid posting pictures that explicitly have alcohol and any other substances in them. Of course, this decision is up to the individual, but anyone who is a student or professional, regardless of age, should probably steer away from photos of this nature (especially if you appear intoxicated). Whether you’re already employed or not, these types of photos can give off the wrong impression to your boss, fellow employees, and even clients. There’s no harm in holding a cocktail or a beer and posing for a photo with a friend, but we’re talking about those photos from parties that scream you were up to no good. This is especially important for those in high school and college who are seeking admission into schools or applying for jobs. You can bet college admissions and employers check up on your online history and a drunken photo popping up in your search results likely won’t help you land your dream job.

Statuses:

DO: Share your thoughts, opinions and jokes so long as they reflect positively on you.

DON’T: Avoid using swear words in your posts. We all feel passionately about some issues and sure, sometimes swear words are warranted to express our feelings but you should keep them off of the internet. Promoting yourself to your hundreds of friends/followers using swear words will likely reflect negatively on you.

DON’T: We all have that Facebook friend who really bugs us in the months leading up to an election. Of course you have the right to share whatever viewpoints you have, but try to avoid being the aggressive politics guy. Sure, I’ve shared an article here and there but I try to avoid making opinionated statements because I know that 1/2 of my friends and followers are probably in favor of the exact opposite of what I’m saying and that may not sit well with them. Plus, it could lead to an argument and nothing is more inglorious than a thread of arguments surrounding your own political agenda popping up on the newsfeed for all of your friends to see.

Privacy:

DO: Make your profile private to the public. Only allowing your approved friends to see your information keeps you safe. Your profile likely contains information about where you live, who your family members are and maybe even your contact information. It’s totally okay to have all of that updated and available so you can easily communicate with friends, but allowing that information to be available to anyone and everyone is dangerous.

DO: Go back to when you first created your account and look through old statuses and posts. Years ago, you may not have had your current career or educational goals in mind and could have posted things that stray from the professional image you’re now trying to maintain. Even though you may think those statuses from 2009 are way back there and don’t stand a chance of being dug up, if someone goes looking, they will be able to find them. So just go back, make sure you’re okay with everything you’ve posted, and delete anything you don’t want there anymore. And from now on before posting, think about where you see yourself in the next five years and ask if what you’re posting could have a negative effect on your future.

DON’T: You shouldn’t allow just anyone to view your profile. This also means that when those schools and employers search you, they can access much less information about you. This will allow your resume and interview to form their opinions rather than your online social media presence.

DON’T: Don’t accept a friend request unless you actually know that person directly. If you haven’t met them in person and don’t plan to meet in the future, you shouldn’t be their Facebook friend. For safety purposes, you don’t want to let a stranger have access to all of your personal information.

Likes:

DO: Like your favorite bands, books, websites, sports teams and other various pages. This adds to your profile.

DON’T: Avoid liking things that can be seen as controversial or inappropriate. That’s up to your own judgement, but think about who your friends are and whether or not you “liking” certain pages would reflect well on you.

Events:

DO: RSVP to events that you’re invited to on Facebook. It’s a great and easy way to plan a party or get together.

DON’T: Don’t RSVP to events that have inappropriate titles or descriptions. You can still go to the event, but by clicking that “I’m Going” button, it will become a part of your profile and it will tell all of your friends that you are attending this event. This can be especially important for those students who are under 21 who RSVP to parties and events where alcohol is definitely going to be present. Just keep in mind, anyone looking at your profile can see you were a part of the event.

Of course, these tips can be applied not only to Facebook, but Twitter, Instagram, and whatever other sites you’re posting on. The most important thing to remember is that anything you post online under your name will be there forever and is available to admission offices, employers and the general public.

Do you have any other social media safety tips? Share with us below!

Profile photo of Julianne Smith
Junior business student at Washington State University. Go Cougs!

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