Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Snapchat. Vine. Instagram. These are just some of the sites and apps that pop into mind when the words “social media” are uttered. Social media can be both the bane and the boon of our social lives in today’s day and age.
On the plus side, you can now stay connected with your family, friends, former teachers, high school prom queen, and your frienemies. Knowing what’s going on in people’s lives (whether fake or real) is as easy as a click away.
Social media is also filled with down-sides. We all know that most people’s Facebook lives are far more glamorous and drama filled than their real ones. We also know that employers will likely look at our social media presence when we are applying for positions. Gone are the days that a simple resume and interview were enough. How do you make sure your social media sites are a help, not a hindrance, to your search for employment? Here are 5 tips for appropriate social media etiquette.
1. Do not overshare.
We’ve all known someone who is an online over-sharer. They crave attention from their social media friends and need it to be validated. Don’t be that person. You do not need a group of friends you never see to back you up on parenting techniques, relationship advice, political advice, etc. You certainly don’t need to tell them how wonderful your spouse is all the time or everything you’ve eaten over the past 2 weeks.
When an employer sees an over-sharer, it sends up a red flag. If you are sharing that much of your life with people you see maybe once every 10 years, can you be trusted to be discreet with private company information? Unlikely!
It’s always a good thing to really think before you post. Who is your audience? Are you posting simply because you need validation? Are you posting because you are emotionally charged right now? Hint: NEVER post when you are emotionally charged about something. Give yourself some time to calm down. If, after you’ve calmed down a bit, you still feel like your post can contribute positively to the world, post it! The key words there are “contribute positively.” It’s okay to be upset with someone and air grievances, but do it face-to-face or over the phone with the person or people involved. Passive aggressive posts are never a good idea. There is too much negativity in the world already. We could use more positive contributions!
2. Really make sure you want those photos online forever.
Vegas was a really good time…but you really don’t need to show the world that photo of your lower-back tattoo. When you post something online, it never truly goes away. It’s a good idea to think long and hard before posting photos that can misconstrue you as drunken, irresponsible, or unprofessional. If you really, really want to share those photos with your friends, make sure your privacy settings are locked down tight. (More on that later.) Try to post photos that portray you in a positive and professional light. If someone tags you in a photo you’re not exactly proud of, untag yourself. It’s okay to have fun and share that fun with others, just make sure you aren’t harming yourself in the long run. A good rule of thumb is to gauge your photos based on the movie rating system. If your photos are all G rated, you’re in good shape. Keep the PG-13 and R rated ones to yourself and your close friends.
3. Never comment about work online.
Complaining about work online is like telling the world, “I’m unprofessional.” In the same vein, bragging about your work accomplishments comes across as arrogant, and you risk annoying…well… everyone. Really, the only time you should comment about work is to share how much you enjoy your work (without a specific deal or win being mentioned), congratulate someone, or (if you really love your company) share job openings with your network and friends.
4. Use proper grammar.
Social media puts all of your grammar and spelling skills on display. It’s best to carefully compose each post and double check your spelling and grammar before posting it. For those who care about appearing credible and professional, nothing is more embarrassing than having poor grammar and spelling for the world to see. Use your browser’s spell checker to ensure you’ve spelled things correctly. If you aren’t sure about your grammar, there are plenty of great grammar sites to help you. My favorite is www.chompchomp.com, and it is super easy to use.
5. Use those privacy settings effectively.
This last tip is probably one of the most overlooked things to consider. Sure, employers aren’t going to dig super deep in to each and every candidate’s online presence, but it is good practice to make sure you know exactly what strangers are seeing. Facebook has made it a lot easier to know exactly what everyone is seeing. Other social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter also have good privacy controls. Use those controls to make sure your profiles remain professional!
I hope these tips help you rein in your social media habits if they’ve gotten a bit out of control and help you to build a more professional online presence that you can be proud of. Hey, you may even be able to “friend” your parents now! Do you have other social media etiquette tips you’d like to share? Post them in the comments below!