How Not to Get Lost in the Social Media Jungle

There are now over 3 billion people logging onto social media accounts around the world! Impressive! Isn’t it? It means that almost half of the world’s population is posting, uploading pictures, videos and creating stories. Social media knows no time zones, no boarders, and it’s accessible 24/7. You know how much it offers to you, but are you also aware how to get around consciously and smartly?

From my experience as social media analyst and digital marketer I’ve learnt that an information once posted, will remain online forever and even if you delete it, there still will be a print of it somewhere in the Internet cosmos. The more important it is to understand what social media is about and how not to get lost in it.

1. Be aware of your online personal brand

Your online image is a part of your personal brand. Your posts, pictures, pages that you like, comments you make build your online identity which influences how you are perceived by others. Trust me, your future employee will examine all your social channels before hiring you. Make sure your social profiles represent you. How to check it? Just google yourself. Type in your name and verify the results. Don’t forget to go through images.

2. Adjust your content to the channel

Each social media channel has been created with a different purpose, for example LinkedIn, SlideShare and Xing are solely professionally oriented, while Instagram and Facebook can be used for both leisure and work. So sharing sweet kittens on LinkedIn will not give you any credit as a reliable worker. Here you can read how you can craft an attractive profile on LinkedIn.

3. Keep some details for yourself

No matter what social media platform you use, all of them ask you a wide range of questions about your personal or professional life: date of birth, phone number, university, employment, relationship status, your current location etc. My advice would be to minimize the amount of personal data you collect, and only share when absolutely necessary.

For example: Imagine, you work in a big company in the HR department. LinkedIn is considered a professional platform and sharing what kind of job you are having helps you connect with right people and enables them to find you. Facebook on the other hand is used by you only outside your work, so you don’t have to let it know which year you were born in and which company you work for.

Moreover, the information print you leave online is collated by data mining companies and sold to companies that want to learn about potential customers and what they do online. Entities such as airlines, politicians, and even non-profits can use this data for finding new customers or targeting products to existing ones. And in the future Big Data analytics will find new ways of using data extracted from your social activities.

4. Think before hitting ‘post’, ‘comment’ or ‘share’

It is important to make thoughtful decisions when posting on social media. Making offensive and disrespectful comments, complaining about your boss or clients or even sharing biased articles urging upon hate towards certain religions or ethnic groups should not take place. There are many examples to be named of people fired due to improper posts. One of the first and most famous cases is Justine Sacco, a PR executive, who has been fired within her 11 hours flight to South Africa after posting a racist and offensive tweet. So before you hit ‘post’ ask yourself a question: Is this information coming from a trustworthy source? Is it true? Will I harm someone or even myself?

5. Evaluate your pictures

Embarrassing party pictures won’t add any value to your image and can create more harm than usefulness. My rule is: I don’t post anything that I would not be able to show to my boss. What to do if someone tagged you on a picture you rather like to be hidden from your Timeline on Facebook? You have a couple of options. First of all, you can set up a Timeline Review. This means that any picture you are tagged in needs to be verified by you. Just remember that in this case you can control only what’s visible on your Timeline, however pictures will still appear in search. You can also remove your tag on the particular picture you don’t like or ask the owner of the photo to remove it. Check your privacy setting to find out how well you are protected.

Social media is a part of our lives indisputably. It’s crucial to know it’s mechanics, possibilities, dangers and educate ourselves in this field to protect us and our beloved ones.

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