Updated: Feb 26
When you apply for a job, exchange business cards or accept a dinner invitation, people will Google your name. What will people discover about you during their search? A while ago, I wrote a well-received articled titled, “Cleaning Up Your Online Presence” that outlined the steps I personally took to focus the information that appears in a Google search of my name, as printed on my résumé and business cards.
Now, with so many professionals, pastors, students, celebrities and everyday workers getting maligned, shunned and fired for their social media posts, it is necessary to scrub unflattering information from our profiles.. Have we not learned to keep problematic political, personal and social opinions off social media?
Have we not learned to delete salacious photographs from Facebook and Instagram, either of ourselves or other hard bodies we find attractive? Have we not learned that compromising photos and videos from social gatherings grow legs quickly, and show up in the most unexpected public spaces?
Hiring managers often turn to social media to research job candidates and get a sense of their true personalities beyond the stilted versions presented in job interviews. Sure, you and your teacher friends might like to get drinks at a local bar after a challenging week.
However, your face should not appear in tipsy, “turnt-up” social media photos. What will your school principal or thesis advisor think? And, yes. You should care what they think. We cannot all be as lucky as Kim Kardashian.
Social media posts reveal much about you that probably needs to remain concealed from your co-workers, supervisors, students and prospective clients. Privacy settings are ironic. Nothing is private anymore.
Generally, a clean public persona is favored in the workplace over a controversial one, despite some governmental exceptions. With all this in mind, it might be time for you to spring clean your social profiles to avoid losing prime employment or lucrative business opportunities.
Take a look at a screenshot of my top Google search entries:
Your Google Search
LinkedIn tops the list, and appears a second time a bit further down. YouTube follows at a close second. My YouTube channel consists of grammar and writing improvement videos. The only other social media profile that pops up is from a Twitter account I created years ago to complement my radio show, NeoSoul Rhythms.
On this page, I would post inspirational quotes and links to cool, independent soul music artists. As time progressed, I began to market my online classes and editing services through that profile.
So, although arsoul501 does not scream “professional educator,” if you scroll through that profile, you will see the items I just described. I got locked out of that account recently, which is fine, since I have no shameful tweets to delete.
The top 10 results of my Google search suggest that I am a professional educator, author, YouTuber, online course creator and editor…the exact things I want people to know about me, especially prospective employers and business partners. What do your results say about you?
How Much Social Media is Too Much?
If more than three social media accounts attach to your Google search, you might want to consider closing out unnecessary profiles. How do you currently earn a living? What are your career aspirations? If you are not a model, entertainer, chef, fitness guru, photographer or some kind of visual media designer, you really do not need an Instagram account.
Snapchat is pretty much passé, but, along with TikTok, it is still viable among kids 18 years and younger. Twitter is good for journalists, authors, editors, bloggers or content creators with a steady flow of material to publish.
Facebook is designed to create communities based on personal, shareable content; its effectiveness for business marketing, however, is variable. The popularity of Pinterest as a visual marketing tool is worth testing with a trial profile. Currently, YouTube is the best for small business growth. All in all, LinkedIn is the premiere platform for professional networking, so be sure to maximize its power to attract employers and new clients.
Instead of using social media as a journal to publicly share your private thoughts, perhaps you should stay professional, and limit content to industry news and trends or your products and services.
Audit Your Online Presence
Since everyone gauges appropriate and inappropriate content differently, deciding what to delete could prove problematic. For example, I might view a high-slit, suggestive evening gown selfie as unbecoming of a department leader. But, YOU could simply see it as a festive holiday photo.
To guide you in figuring out what others might find offensive, here are 10 kinds of posts to delete from your profiles:
1. off-color jokes
2. racist, sexist, etc. comments
3. confidential details of your personal life
4. disparaging comments about clients
5. disrespectful comments about your boss or company
6. lewd or offensive comments about co-workers
7. inappropriate photos
8. questionable videos (e.g. fights, profane rants)
9. anything suggesting you are goofing off at work
10. grumpy posts about politics or the state of the world
Comb through all of your social media profiles to delete content that OTHERS might find rude and objectionable, regardless of how you feel about it. Bottom-line, be very intentional and purposeful with the kinds of social media accounts you open, and the type of content you post or like.
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Ashan R. Hampton is a long-time English instructor turned entrepreneur. She is also a proud graduate of the Donaghey Scholars Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock under the direction of Dr. C. Earl Ramsey, Emeritus. Through her company, Onyx Online Education & Training, she offers online writing courses and print books for academic and professional development to individuals and corporations. She is also a prolific published author of several books on a variety of topics. To find out more about Ashan's work, visit www.arhampton.com.
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