These days, social media seems to invade every corner of our lives. No matter your privacy settings, your personal social media pages can have serious effects on your professional reputation. These platforms give coworkers, clients, and potential employers an up close and personal look into your private life, but don’t delete your Facebook page just yet. If you simply consider a few things when engaging in social media, you’ll be fine.
Sure, you’re absolutely entitled to your opinions, but a nasty, heated, political argument on Facebook or Twitter is not something you want your boss or potential clients to see. In today’s political climate, there’s about a 50% chance you’re going to alienate someone with a politically charged comment. Why risk it?
We are so accustomed to putting our personal lives on display. Occasionally we forget there is a limit to how much people really want to know about us. Social media is a great place to ask for recommendations and laugh and share advice with friends going through similar stages of life, but there’s a line that definitely gets crossed sometimes. You should consider not posting anything you wouldn’t want to say directly to your boss. This includes your medical ailments, your family drama, and your complaints about your job. Sometimes we get a little too bold when we’re behind a keyboard and don’t stop to think about the wide array of people who could gain access to our post.
Everyone is always eager to post a fun picture from the weekend and watch hundreds of likes pop up on our phone. If you don’t post about it on Facebook or Instagram, it didn’t actually happen, right? You know your colleagues and customers better than anyone else, so photo content is your judgment call. Just keep in mind it’s not unheard of for an offensive Facebook picture to get someone fired.
Social media housekeeping is a wise thing to do occasionally. Some of these platforms have been around for a while now. There may be some pictures from ten years ago you completely forgot existed. Take some time to go through all the forgotten crevices of your accounts and take stock of what’s out there. You might find the delete button to be your best friend.
Is all of your personal social media activity happening during work hours? You could be leaving some wondering if you’re actually working or just wasting your time on social media. It could also be wise to double check your company’s social media policy. Posting on company time or company equipment could get you in trouble.
Privacy settings are always helpful and highly advisable, but at the end of the day, they aren’t fool proof. As much as you insist your social media pages are completely private, there’s no guarantee. If you apply for a job, the first thing a potential employer is going to do is pull up your Facebook page. Maybe they can’t see much because of your impressive privacy settings, but I bet you have a mutual friend who doesn’t mind sending a few screen shots.
Whether your goal is to maintain your reputation with your own coworkers and customers or pursue other jobs, your personal social media needs to be held to certain standards. Social media is here to stay (and grow). As professionals, if we’re going to engage in social media, we need to make sure we’re projecting the best image of ourselves.