Everything we do, say and think is online nowadays. It’s time to protect your personal brand…

 Every picture you post, every word you say, every friend you add. Whether it’s Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and even the supposedly ‘safe’ app Snapchat, everything you do online is watched, recorded and examined. If you imagine yourself as a brand that needs to be maintained and protected, then every aspect of your online presence needs to be controlled by you. Employers, potential partners and even potential friends are Googling you right at this minute. Is your online brand selling you the right way?

Does your mother know?

Shane O’Leary (www.shaneoleary.me) is an advertising planner and freelance digital strategist. He says he knows from experience how well your personal can work for you if you harness the power of it in the right way, but says the ‘mother’ rule is a good one to live by online.

“The best piece of advice I’ve heard is not to openly share anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see, or that you wouldn’t want splashed on a billboard. We all have drunken photos from nights out that you’d rather not be tagged in, and that’s fine. But there are simple steps to ensure these are kept private and away from prying eyes,” says Shane.

“For example I know for a fact that most recruiters now actively Google the person they’re interviewing, and check for public social media accounts. This can make or break a potential job offer, so keep personal accounts private.

“On the other side of this, and it sounds very corny, but realising the power of your own ‘brand’ online can be great for your career. I’m living proof, having gotten two jobs from blogging and networking online. If your industry suits, maybe set up separate professional accounts, grab your domain name (it’s easy), start blogging, tweeting and networking with people you admire. It’s a great way to gain control over how you’re perceived. Generally, a little bit of cop on goes a long way.”

Just the job

Suzy Griffin (@suzygriffin) manages and advises on social media for some of Ireland’s top brands and businesses. She reckons what you tweet or endorse on Twitter can negatively influence a potential employer, and advises thinking before you type.

“You have to think, are your posts/ tweets making you unemployable in the future? Even if you’re not currently job hunting you may be soon. Watch your language! A 2013 report by William Fry claimed 86 per cent of employers said the use of bad language on a candidate’s social media account would affect their decision to hire them. It may not be YOUR image/video but by sharing it you are endorsing it. The same report discovered 80 per cent of employers would be negatively influenced by inappropriate photos/videos seen on your profile. Finally, I cannot believe the amount of people who have no problem throwing in their two cents on serious crimes or issues, often basing their opinions on images or hearsay online. Think before you type, every day newspapers print tweets and posts found online, even if deleted afterwards.”

Take control

Damien Mulley, self confessed “person that Tweets too much and gets into trouble at least weekly because of it”, is a social media whiz who tweets at @damienmulley. Here, he gives his pearls of wisdom about taking control of your online persona, remembering how permanent everything is and what pitfalls to avoid.

“Employers in Ireland when interviewing you are meant to only evaluate you on your application and interview. We all know they’ll Google you too though and if those results are negative, it can harm their impression of you. So control the front page of Google for your name. Have a website or a blog or a LinkedIn page or a Twitter account so at least the first five results about you are platforms/sites where you control the message.”

It’s permanent

“What you say on the Internet is permanent, even if you delete it. Archive.org and even Google cache old webpages and lots of people can screenshot a tweet you made where you were tired or stressed and let rip on someone or some company. Always, always be conscious that if you say something on Twitter or Facebook, it is like writing it into a permanent public record,” says Mulley.

Don’t make the mistake

Damien talks us through what to do and what NOT to do online…

DON’T

think you’re having a semi-private conversation. Social media is not being at a restaurant and having a conversation just between you and friends around the table. It’s like having a recording device left in the middle of the table which is then uploaded to the internet.

DON’T

think everyone you’re connected to online has your back. Some will happily direct people to one of your mistakes online. How much do you really know about a Facebook pal?

DO

be nice (which is hopefully being yourself). It may take a little getting used to but keep asking yourself, “What I’m typing can be seen by the world, am I okay with this?” After a while it becomes like muscle memory and you become a little more aware of it.

DO

think about that PR lady recently in America that made a somewhat racist comment about Africa and AIDS as she was getting on her plane and by the time she landed, she was fired and her name was known around the world for all the wrong reasons. You don’t want to be that lady.

DO

be aware that it is very hard to get context in a single tweet or Facebook comment. With so little context, people can misinterpret what you say and go on their high horse quite quickly. Damage can be done even if what you said was perfectly innocent. I’m not trying to scare you away from social media and chances are you will never encounter this but it is worth being aware of all the possibilities.

 

NEVER EVER

If you are ANY of these people, just watch as your personal brand stocks plummets…

  • Oversharers. No one cares about your Athlete’s Foot or the thrush you got from antibiotics. No one. Except maybe your pharmacist.
  • PDA-ers. If you love your boyfriend, tell them. In private. No one else needs to hear it.
  • Teasers. “OMG I’ve just had THE best news. Watch this space.” *Unfollows*
  • Attention seekers. “Devastated. Don’t wanna talk about it.” Get OFF Facebook then?!
  • Abusers of the English language. Ruining our lives one “there, their, they’re” error at a time.
  • Text speakers. “Goin out 2nite bbz xoxo cant w8, guna b a grt 1 lol haha” Just. Can’t. Deal.
  • Life envy inducers. Oh, you’re swimming with elephants in Bali, ARE YOU? Ugh. *Cue beach pic*.
  • Humble braggers. “Just got told I look like Jennifer Lawrence. Haha, yeah right!” Oh get a life.
  • Motivators. We don’t need your ridiculous motivational quotes. Thanks. Shut it.
  • Egomaniacs. Every word you say isn’t dripping in gold and diamonds like you think it is. Ssh.