How Private Should Your Social Media Accounts Actually Be?
Career Growth

How Private Should Your Social Media Accounts Actually Be?

WE’RE LIVING IN A NONSTOP, CAN’T TURN IT OFF, SOCIAL WORLD, WHICH MEANS WE HAVE THE UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE OUR LIVES WITH JUST ABOUT EVERYONE WITH A STRONG INTERNET CONNECTION.

And that means everyone—your mom, your best friend, your ex, and even your boss. In other words, whatever you’re posting on your social networks? It’s all fair game and a part of your digital footprint forever. 

Social media isn’t an island. How you present yourself online is linked back to the offline you—you know, the one killin’ it at the office. {click to tweet} What you post may also be visible to people you never intended to share certain aspects of your life with. Because your boss doesn’t really need to know how much wine you drank last Thursday night, right?

But that doesn’t mean you have to go into full lockdown and shutter all your social profiles in order to maintain your professional growth. The thing about social media is that you are in control of what gets shared, and who specifically sees whatever you’re putting online. If you’re a working professional, or someone scouring the job market for a new opportunity, it’s critical to put your best face forward, including on social media. 

Here are a few general principles to smartly navigate social media while still keeping your professional persona on lock.

Three magic words: know your audience. 

ALL THOSE PRIVACY CONTROLS? USE ‘EM

Seriously. This is the easiest way to control who sees what on your social media profiles without impacting the content you choose to share. 

Facebook has the most privacy options available, allowing you to change who sees each of your posts on a post by post basis. You can also keep your overall profile limited or private to certain people (even if they’re already your Facebook friend!). Twitter and Instagram allow you to choose whether or not your profile is private to all people you haven’t accepted as a friend/follower, and Snapchat lets you decide if only friends should be able to see your Snapchat story or send you snaps. 

If you haven’t yet, explore those settings and update them to what you feel most comfortable with, depending on the channel.

Whether we like it or not, our social media profiles often speak for us and give other people an idea of who we are—often before they’ve ever met us offline.

CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE BEFORE YOU POST

For those of us who work in creative or digital type careers, having all social profiles set to private may not be a realistic option. In that case, it’s time to clean up your social presence and think carefully before you greenlight anything to be shared publicly, as well as who you add/accept as a friend.

Three magic words: know your audience. {click to tweet} That means being aware of your followers beyond just how many you have on a given day. Potential clients, students, or leadership from work? You can still be yourself and share moments of your day, but keep it classy and responsible. Think carefully about how whatever you’re sharing will resonate with people who are not your best friends or parents (like your boss, regardless of how rad he/she may be). This includes your comments on other people’s posts as well—you can’t control their privacy settings.

BRAND YO’SELF

Whether we like it or not, our social media profiles often speak for us and give other people an idea of who we are—often before they’ve ever met us offline. Even if you’re someone who works in a very open or casual environment, your social media presence should be consistent with your personal brand. In other words, don’t share something on social media that you’d be embarrassed to talk about in person. Trust your gut and if something feels a bit too sacred or contradictory to how you generally present yourself in public (think: photos of you slamming shots in a bar), it might be best to keep them off social media rather than highlighted. And remember—deleting something does not necessarily erase its existence from the world wide web completely after you’ve originally posted it. 

If you don’t think about what you're sharing, you can bet someone else is—and it might be your next boss.

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Do you think about your career before you post to your personal social media profiles?