The invention of social media has given a platform to anyone who has an email address and can create an account. These days, professionals don’t see the connection between what they post on social media and how it shapes their online reputation. There are many benefits to being on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—both personally and professionally. The problem is that when you combine your personal life, professional goals, and Google, the mixture can be like a fun basement party invading a formal gala televised live on a big screen with a transcript. There’s a time and place for both, but it’s important to be in control of your online reputation because it’s also connected to your personal brand.
Chances are your potential, or current, employer may Google you at some point. If you have a strong online presence, there should be information that positively displays your personal brand and career such as an impressive LinkedIn profile, professional achievements, mixed with moderate social pictures that reflect your interests. If you’re not aware of your online presence, there may be pictures and social media postings that even as an adult you wouldn’t want your parents to see. More horrifying than the parental backlash (or maybe not) is the negative online imprint you’re leaving for any potential business connection to find.
Are you guilty of these 10 things that can hurt your personal brand?
1. You have no idea what shows up in search results when you’re Googled.
2. You have a public Facebook profile and your life is an open book (even a stalker would get bored due to the lack of a chase).
3. You validate how much you hate your job and manager by constantly posting how much you hate your job and manager—surprise, the cat is out the see-through bag.
4. You have an inappropriate LinkedIn profile picture, such as a selfie where you’re dressed in business gear with a granite bathroom countertop, towel, and mirrored shower door in the background (yes, this a real example).
5. You leave no stone unturned with offensive comments and controversial opinions, making many people grateful for “hide” and “unfollow” options.
6. Your Twitter profile resembles one of a teenager, since you only follow celebrities and no professional public figures or career interests.
7. You post random meaningless status updates on LinkedIn and shamelessly plug that you’re looking for a new job in every group you’ve joined (by the way, that’s not considered networking).
8. Your Facebook and Twitter profiles include so many pictures of you drinking and partying there is an intervention with your name on it being staged at this very moment.
9. Your posts include language that would make even a sailor blush.
10. You tweet so much that you don’t know how to communicate using more than 140 characters and no longer spell out words (e.g., ty, gr8t, ur).
If you’re guilty of doing any of these things, simple fixes like changing your social media privacy settings, controlling posts that you are tagged in, and deleting inappropriate photos can improve your online reputation. If you have negative information that comes up in a Google search, try adding positive information that will push it further back on search pages, such as creating your own web domain, being active on LinkedIn, and sharing professional blog posts. Most importantly, be conscious of the things you post on social media as well as what others may post about you. Understand that each picture, status update, or comment, could potentially end up in Google search results. At the end of the day, you want to ensure that you make the right impression about your brand to anyone that happens to come across your name online. Unlike Vegas, what happens on social media doesn’t always stay on social media.
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