Updated: Jul 20, 2020
When I assess clients' social media accounts, I tend to see a blurry line between personal and professional - and sometimes a mixup between the two. One innocent mistake can damage your reputation and lose your clientele.
While you may have different social media accounts to keep your private and professional lives separate, people can still learn about you via BOTH channels. It's time to take a closer look at your personal social media accounts.
Tip #1: REVIEW YOUR PERSONAL ACCOUNT PRIVACY SETTINGS
Who can see you?
Have you set your responses to certain people? Are your posts public, or have you set them for friends only? Can connections of your friends and followers also see your responses? In Facebook alone, these are the types of settings users may be unaware of.
Who can find you?
Can anyone look you up and find your phone number? As for the latter, providing phone numbers is a great way to invite robocalls.
Who can see your friends list? Can people find you via your "friends?" Can your friends' friends see/find you?
Have you set your account so search engines can find you?
Who can tag you?
Settings can be tricky, and NONE, despite our best assumptions, may remain private. Even if you don't personally post anything embarrassing, college buddies Fifi and Jojo may decide to tag you from that unflattering pub crawl or raunchy off-campus party. Recent news of world leaders found in unflattering situations from their youth are now paying for their younger indiscretions.
If you want to be in tags, create settings where you must approve them to be seen.
Whether or not you choose to be tagged, understand that your connections may post old photos that include you. While you cannot control what others may do, you may want to share your privacy concerns with them.
Who sees your posts?
Before you smuggly say that "of course" your posts are set to certain privacy levels, all it takes is one innocent mistake of creating a public post - and forgetting to turn your settings back to private.
So you decide to hide your posts to certain privacy settings. Keep in mind that this usually doesn't apply to posts created before this setting is put in place.
When in doubt, don't post it.
How much of yourself are you giving away?
Have you filled in your birthday, music preferences, location, political party, and groups you follow? All of these are used to target you for ads, fake media posts to cause social disruption, and to figure out what your passwords are to your many accounts. Are you sure you want tech savvy criminals to have that access?
Tip #2: CONSIDER WHO YOUR "FRIENDS" AND "FOLLOWERS ARE"
Does Uncle Waldo have a tendency to share controversial posts? Have you ever liked/lol'd/commented on them in any way? It may be time to hide or block Uncle Waldo's posts AND not respond to them. Whether you approve or disapprove of those posts, your responses may be found via internet searches, and therefore open to misperception.
Tip #3: WHAT ORGANIZATIONS DO YOU FOLLOW - AND HAVE YOU RECENTLY ASSESSED THEIR ACTIVITY?
We are in unprecedented times where various organizations have joined in political stances or actions. While it may be perfectly fine to follow them if their views align with yours, ask yourself if any reaction/response on your part will harm your bottom line - and your professional reputation.
Tip #4: STAY AWAY FROM ONLINE QUIZZES & QUESTIONABLE LINKS
Where's your ideal city or country to live?
What or who were you in a previous life?
Find your ideal vacation adventure
So you're bored and intrigued and decide to take a test. You share and get others to do the same. Have you ever considered who's creating these tests and why? Here are two sources:
Social media is free because YOU are the product. Many of these tests are mining you for data. It's why you see ads relevant to your favorite clothing, hobbies, travel and more. When you answer these quizzes, you are providing specific information about your behaviors, political preferences and more. The Cambridge Analytica scandal with Facebook is a prime example of user vulnerability.
While marketing firms and social media may be creating these quizzes, hackers are looking at ways to steal information about and from you.
Personal or professional, you are your brand.
Better Business Bureau: BBB Scam Alert: Bored at home? Think twice before taking that Facebook quiz
Tech Republic: Facebook data privacy scandal: A cheat sheet