You would be shocked to discover how many employees have lost their job as a result of something they’ve posted on social media. Over the past year I’ve seen it all – from employees complaining about customers on their Facebook page to staff venting about their boss to all their friends online. Companies are now engaging PR Consultants to run sessions for employees on how to manage their ‘e-reputation’ to educate them about what to do and more importantly what NOT to do with their personal social media profiles.
You don’t have to be in the public eye to care about your online reputation. Almost everything you do online is easy to track, especially when you’re using social media sites.
Unfortunately, the internet has a far longer reach than small town gossip.
Here are my top 4 guidelines you can follow to save you some embarrassment, or even your career.
1) First impressions are everything
It’s crucial to make a good first impression with your online presence, as it’s really difficult to shake a bad one. Your Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter accounts should have a professional profile picture. Don’t use a photo of you downing a schooner of beer! I’ve heard stories from employers who have gone to offer a person a new job, but after a quick final search and check of the potential employee’s social media pages they were turned off by amateur and unprofessional images that were visible for the world to see.
2) Lock down those privacy settings.
You want to ensure your Facebook account isn’t open to your non-Facebook friends, so it’s important you adjust your privacy settings so only your friends can see your wall, photos and personal information. Facebook now gives you the ability to control which photos you are tagged in so no longer will your friends tag you in an unflattering photo or inappropriate post. Your connections now have to make sure they have your permission before you can be tagged – but only if you set up your privacy settings in this way. It’s also important to educate your family and friends and ask them to remove photos or unflattering mentions of you from social media sites.
3) Tread carefully
We all know how some people on social media can react when they see something they don’t agree with. You want to avoid sparking any kind of controversy on your facebook pages – personal or business. Keep your personal profile separate and make sure to leave any controversial topics far away from your business pages as it can turn people off your brand all together or generate negative comments which you really don’t want.
4) Don’t post anything you wouldn’t be happy to see on the front page of the Newspaper
Even if your privacy settings are locked down, treat your social media pages as if they are public domain. So many times I’ve seen stories and photos end up in the media as a result of what someone has posted on their Facebook page. You might be happy for information or photos to be around now for friends but do you want it to be seen by your relatives or by a prospective employer when you go for a job in five years or by your children or by a new partner to see in the future?
Have you ever ‘Facebook stalked’ someone new you’ve met? I know I have. Just make sure when someone does it to you, your profile is clean, professional and portrays the right image for you and your brand or employer.
Jaimie Abbott is the owner of Jaimie Abbott Communications, a Public Relations and media training company in Newcastle.