In a time when the average young employee has at least 15 coworkers friended on Facebook, it’s important to think about the consequences before getting into a heated Twitter feud, posting crazy party pictures, or making inappropriate jokes online. Although these actions may seem funny or harmless in the moment, they can instantaneously damage one’s reputation, and may lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment and regret. Here are a few tips on avoiding social media mishaps and maintaining a positive online reputation.
1. “Google” your name and see what’s already posted. Chances are there’s already some online-related content in association with a person’s full name, job, or personal information. Knowing what’s already tagged to an online identity is the first step in proactively managing it. Search by first and last name on several popular search engines, and lookout for any profiles, pictures, personal information or other items associated with it. Tools like Google alerts and Twilerts, help people stay on top of all online name mentions on a regular basis.
2. Take charge. To ensure that an online presence has more good than bad, don’t let others build it—take charge. Posting things frequently will instill confidence that an online reputation paints an accurate picture of how that person wants to be seen, and won’t be based on outside views or opinions.
3. Cover up old tracks. If anything unflattering comes up during the online search, see if it’s something that can easily be deleted. If so, backtrack and delete any images or information that may be inappropriate from the past. Doing so will not only save some embarrassment, but also possibly a career.
4. Resist the urge to overshare. Use discretion when posting images and information. Keep in mind that the outrageous pictures from last weekend’s party might be amusing to friends, but it’s important to think of how an employer or even an older relative would perceive them, and how that would influence their opinion.
5. Be considerate of others. One should take caution before posting photos of others on the web—even if it’s a cute baby photo. Not everyone is comfortable sharing personal photos and information with an online audience. Also be mindful of potentially offensive opinionated statements. Although it’s important to express personal values and opinions, try to exercise civility when doing so. Respect the reputation and privacy of others when posting their information, and they will return the favor.
If your online reputation has become an issue in your everyday life, workplace, or relationships, ACI Specialty Benefits can help in dealing with these challenges and managing their emotional impact. Please call (800) 932-0034 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.