It’s pretty standard now: you meet someone new, be it a business prospect, friend or love interest, and what’s the first thing you do?
You Google them.
With social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, people are revealing increasing amounts of personal information by the minute, disclosing everything from vacation photos, weekend plans and personal preferences to current residence, their employer and job title. Do you really want strangers, your co-workers or even your boss to be privy to such personal content?
Here are some things you can do to monitor your “digital footprint:”
- Manage your social media privacy settings to limit or specify who can search for you and what others can see.
- Edit your “Friends” or connections and remove anyone you no longer speak to or those who are likely to gossip; only accept friend requests from people you know and are comfortable with.
- Untag and/or remove any pictures, groups, wall posts, videos, etc. that may “come back to haunt you.” (No potential employer will be amused by your ability to do a 10-second keg stand—except maybe Rick.)
- Keep your profile picture professional, since it’s the one that will appear when you are searched.
- Choose carefully which pages and groups you “like;” although your profile may be set to private, oftentimes this information appears on a search. Pages are usually public and can be viewed by anyone. Although you personally may not post anything, if there is inappropriate content present, you risk being guilty by association.
- Pay attention to notifications on social media sites such as Facebook, because they alert you as to who is commenting on your information. This can help you determine how your content is perceived and received. Adjust it accordingly.
- If you are using Twitter or Facebook for business/branding purposes, stay focused on that and forego posting too much personal information. Keep content relevant to your audience, but have fun!
It doesn’t matter that you’re not a famous athlete, musician, actor or model—everything you or anyone ever posted to the internet about you is searchable by the public forever. Be careful what you Tweet!