Social media has brought so many friends, family, colleagues, and strangers together that the world actually seems a bit smaller. It’s now commonly used for both personal and business use. If you plan to use social networks to help you advance in business or your career, then social media professionalism is of utmost importance.
What you post directly reflects your reputation, both online and offline. According to a CareerBuilder.com survey, 37% of companies conduct social media research on job candidates. Of those companies, 65% do it specifically to find out if the candidate practices professional conduct on social networks. So what should you do (and not do) to keep it professional?
5 Do’s of Social Media Professionalism
Follow these tips to keep your social media profiles and posts in line with the code of social media professionalism:
1. Do… Be Aware of Your Privacy Settings
Some social media sites, such as Facebook and Google+, have account privacy settings, while others, like Pinterest, allow you to set privacy settings of specific content. Public profiles are those that anyone can view, even if you’re not connected. This route is great for building an online presence for yourself, if you plan to keep your posts and comments professional.
But even if your profile isn’t public, there are some things you can’t control, such as tags. If someone tags you in a status post or image, their friends and connections can still see that content. You can change your privacy settings of tagged content. Or, you can simply follow the rules of social media professionalism and never post anything that may negatively affect your reputation.
2. Do… Create an Alias Profile if Absolutely Necessary
Some people’s personal brands and business brands don’t jive well together. So for them, it’s best to keep them separate. If this is your case, creating a separate account for your business profile is a great idea.
For your business profile, follow social media professionalism by only posting content related to the business. Do not publish personal commentaries and rants, and keep things as objective as you can.
3. Do… Showcase Your Unique Interests & Skills
Some of the things employers and recruiters look for when researching potential candidates on social media are the groups you’re in, volunteer work, and activities in which you take part. They want to find out whether or not you’re a well-rounded individual.
Recruiters, employers, and potential clients use keywords to conduct searches on social media. So if you’re a digital media consultant, make sure those words and other relevant keywords appear in your social network profile. Include keywords related to your knowledge, skill sets, and job qualifications.
4. Do… Join Relevant Social Networking Groups
Hiring companies and recruiters pay close attention to the social media groups their potential candidates join. According to Time magazine, 4 out of 5 recruiters liked to see your affiliations and memberships with relevant professional organizations on your profiles. Make sure your groups are not offensive in nature and do not have negative impacts on your industry.
Also, be active in the groups you join. Take part in the online discussions, and start your own by posing thought-provoking questions. This will help to show off your industry knowledge, skills, expertise, and social media professionalism. Business coach Richard Hale explains “relationships” are everything. “For any of you that want to start a business, building relationships is one of the most important things you can do,” Richard added. “You can’t do it alone, we need partners to accelerate our growth. As you build your network using social media, you’ll find more opportunities, they’ll continue to grow as your network grows. It’s one of the most important things you can do at any stage, but especially in the beginning.
5. Do… Make Grammar a Priority
It’s surprising how many people overlook checking and rechecking grammar when posting on social networks. Proper grammar is key to building up your credibility online.
Sometimes, a simple spellchecker can eliminate your grammar issues. But there’s nothing more valuable as a grammatical error checker than simply proofreading your work before clicking post, publish, or share.
5 Don’ts of Social Media Professionalism
As a professional, ignoring proper social media etiquette can lead you down a path of unemployment and failed business ventures. Here are five don’ts to follow in order to stay professional on social sites:
1. Don’t… Post Inappropriate Photos
CareerBuilder.com reports that in 2013, of the employers who screened potential job candidates using social networks, 43% said they didn’t hire them because of content they found. About 50% cited inappropriate and provocative images and content as the reasons.
Visuals are picked up by Google images and displayed in search results. All it takes is the right keyword, and your negative content will be found online.
2. Don’t… Speak Negatively about Employers
It’s quite common to turn to social networks to gripe about how you feel about your employer and work in general. The problem is that many companies have employed people whose jobs are to seek out these types of posts. People are being fired regularly because of negative social posts about their employers, management, and co-workers.
Potential employers are turned off by petty and trivial complaints you make against your employers, past and present. If you were them (and potential clients), wouldn’t you worry about you posting disgruntled comments about them online, too?
3. Don’t… Be Harassing or Offensive
It is completely against the code of social media professionalism to post comments that can be considered offensive or harassing. Even if the topic touches your heart and soul deeply, the professional thing to do is to remain neutral.
Just to be safe, if it’s negative, don’t post it. You never know who you may offend, including future employers and clients, community leaders, industry experts, online influencers, etc.
4. Don’t… Post Content That’s Overly Opinionated
Unless your brand is directly related to religion or politics, try to refrain from posting about religious and political issues. It’s fairly easy for these topics to make you sound judgmental, close-minded, and extreme to others.
This goes for other highly opinionated posts, which can offend potential clients and employers. If you simply must share on these issues, be sure to do it tactfully.
5. Don’t… “Like” or “Follow” the Controversial
It may be tempting to “like” and “follow” controversial celebrities and characters. Some of these may include controversial music groups, political candidates, television shows, movies, and religious groups. Well, this could actually taint your reputation with certain groups and individuals.
Unless this is what your brand is about and does, stay clear of controversial figures that may offend potential clients and employers. You never know who’s checking out your social profile.
Be sure to practice social media professionalism when you use your social media profile to entice and engage with potential employers and clients.