By Sonya D. Lavett
Social media plays such a huge part in how we all communicate in today’s culture. Do you ever take a step back and wonder what your social media presence looks like to the outside world? Whether you are a social media guru or someone who is just becoming familiar with this tool, it never hurts to perform a little tune-up from time to time. Here are some helpful tips to keep your social media life in check and on point:
• Schedule a weekly appointment with yourself and spend 20 to 30 minutes (or maybe even an hour if you have the time) to tweak your profile, curating and posting new material relevant to your personality/brand/career, and responding to those in your network. If you are having a bad day, be sure to reschedule your social media hour for a day when you are not so busy, cranky or frazzled.
• Stay positive and demonstrate good judgment. Just because we have the ability to post anything we want, wherever we feel like it does not mean that it is a good idea to do so. Freedom of speech comes with responsibility and that freedom means we should always handle our thoughts, responses and opinions with care.
• Know your audience, e.g. those you are speaking to. Your message may look very different on a personal social media site than on your professional network. We don’t necessarily behave exactly the same way among our family and friends as we do with our colleagues and co-workers, nor should we.
• Double and triple check your statements to ensure there are no misspellings and that clarity and conciseness is present. If your meaning is unclear or if your message could be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted, go back to the drawing board.
• What does your profile picture say about you? You may want to update your photo often, as people change over time. Six months to a year is the standard lifespan of a profile picture. A genuine smile looks great on everyone. If possible, ditch the sunglasses and hat, as these items convey a message of “covering up.”
In today’s culture, everyone has an opportunity for their 15 minutes of fame. Anyone with internet (and that’s pretty much all of us) has the ability to post information, opinions, photos, feedback, reviews, comments and basically whatever we feel in the moment is appropriate to fit our emotions and/or agendas. The problem is that once that information is posted, it never goes away. NEVER.
We would like to think that by deleting a post or photo we are now in the clear; however, deleting things on your end does not actually make them disappear. Once you post something, you have made it public. Deleting it may erase your copy of it, but you have no idea who has already copied and pasted, taken a snapshot or forwarded to others.
Being thoughtful and a little cautious may actually save you from embarrassment and keep you out of hot water.
There are what is known as baiters who proactively seek confrontations via the web in order to stir up trouble and basic chaos. Do not fall into this trap. Just like the little creep on the playground, you have the right to choose whether you will ignore this person or waste your time and energy trying to convince them to be a better person. (This is why if you are having a bad day, it may be wiser for you to stay away from social media altogether until your mood clears up to avoid any conversations or comments you may later regret.)
However you are communicating and whichever social media platforms you may be using, complete a tune up on your public image periodically. Sites such as Facebook allow you the ability to review everything you have posted in an easy, orderly timeline. Updating your profile pictures, creating relevant material, and posting with care will ensure that you and your image remain skillful and polished.