Branding Yourself With Social Media
Can social media help (or harm) your professional reputation?
By: Karin Eldor
Monster Contributing Writer
Have you thought about your “digital footprint”?
It's literally the trail you’re leaving while using social media, as well as the scope of your online presence.
Whether you’re looking for a job or are currently in a job, it's time to realize that everything you do on social media could be contributing to – or harming – you as a brand.
It used to be that maintaining a professional reputation was all about a firm handshake, a well-presented appearance, an impressive business card, and skills like being well-spoken. But thanks to (or rather, in spite of) the array of different social media channels out there, your image becomes a result of all your social media activities. Scary thought, don’t you think?
The first thing to realize is that when applying for a job, your potential employers will Google you or at least search for you on Facebook. So how do you ensure that your profile remains positive and keep your rep in tact? Follow this advice:
Lock down your Facebook
There are several privacy options you can set on your Facebook account, the best of which is keeping it private and only viewable to those within your network (and with permission). Keep in mind that those pics of your best friend’s bachelor party or night out with the girls in Vegas aren't doing you any favours, so think twice about posting them. As well, if you are tagged in a photo that doesn't shed a positive light on you, simply remove the “tag” in case someone does catch a glimpse of your account.
Part of the beauty of Facebook and social media is that it’s a great democratic forum and a place to openly share your thoughts. So if you don't want to censor your account, consider having a duplicate account that’s more appropriate for public viewing and doesn't taint your image (keeping the account that could get you in trouble private is still a prudent move).
Be careful about what you post
A picture may tell a thousand words, but what you post as your status updates can also impact you as a brand. Stick to positive, optimistic posts and comments, and avoid posting news such as how you feel after a hangover, how you overslept and missed your alarm, how you are so mad it’s Monday, or how you just watched the movie “Horrible Bosses” and can totally relate. It's also a good idea to refrain from any extreme or political statements. What should you post? Pics from a recent trip to South America show that you’re well-traveled (a good thing!), your participation in “hobby” groups show that you’re well-rounded, while links to charities you hold near and dear to your heart are also a great idea.
Keep it positive
In the same vein as heeding what you post, avoid posting negative comments regarding a former company, employer or teacher. You don’t want to look like someone who has burned bridges, and offensive language towards anyone lacks a sense of professionalism that could cost you a job opportunity!
Keep it consistent
In the spirit of positioning yourself as organized, keep your different social media profiles up to date and consistent with each other and your resume. Make sure they all have your most recent information concerning your education and/or work experience.
Remember: some channels are interrelated
When posting a seemingly harmless link on Twitter, remember that it might automatically post to your Facebook page and other social media accounts (this functionality can be turned off or on in your “settings”). So keep in mind that whatever you do post might actually be seen by a wider network of people than you originally assumed.
Keep your (desired) job in mind
You want to make sure your social media channels are also a reflection of your current or desired job. For example, if you are looking for a job in social media, you want to ensure that you’re active on the major social media channels and that you use the most popular industry-related functions and trends, like blogging or knowing how to properly write a “hashtag”. It's tough to sell yourself as a marketer if your channels look underused and you hardly have any followers or “friends,” or if you’re using outdated channels. As well, it’s a bonus to be part of Facebook groups that are in line with your industry and make you look like you’re on the cutting edge.
When it comes to branding yourself online, be logical: when in doubt, refrain from posting. Social media can definitely help you advance your career or get a new job, but you need to leverage it to make sure you’re always casting a halo around your public image.