Aarti Bhana
4 minute read
4 Jan 2018
8:19 am

Vetting your social media presence

Aarti Bhana

Social media use has the potential to either build a or break your profile. Use it wisely.

AFP/File / Karen Bleier
Hootsuite is known for its social media "dashboard" that allows users to manage Twitter and other social media posts

Social media platforms are transforming rapidly and those who frequent the different networks find that concepts are converging across platforms. Audience and user responses are also changing. This has the potential to build a profile or break a profile. Think back to the scenarios of Penny Sparrow, Chris Hart, Velaphi Khumalo and Justine Sacco, among others. 

Here are tips for the ordinary user on how to build an honest online reputation and grow your name and profile for all the good reasons.

Always be authentic

The social media space often enables people to choose who they want to be, and this may not necessarily tie with who they actually are. The views you express on your social media profiles should correlate and agree you’re your real self. At some point, you could meet in person those who you have engaged with online.

Do you really want to develop a reputation as someone who pretends to be someone else?

Create your personal billboard

Think of social media as your own personal billboard, and use this to your advantage. Social media is a great way to increase your personal brand and image. You never know who is watching your content. Put a bit of your unique personality in all your content, include your interests and hobbies. Let yourself be seen.

People are more likely offer you job opportunities if they know who you are, how you engage or what you engage with.

Choosing what to post, and what not to post

Everything you post has the potential to come back to you or can get linked to you. In many instances, users would post inappropriate or improper content on a certain platform. Or we too may consider posting something without considering the consequence. The golden rule to avoid backlash is, if you would not say it or demonstrate it, on a stage, in front of 10 000 strangers, do not post it on social media.

Know your privacy settings

Each social media network or platform offers different levels of privacy settings. Be aware of the privacy settings on the social networks and platforms you use, especially those which you are more active on. But remember you still control the content that you put out, you cannot control what your followers do with your content. Even with high privacy settings in place, your content can get into the public domain.

Career suicide

Using social media platforms to vent or express dismay or anger about someone in your personal or professional circle is never a good idea.

It opens potential ground for dismissal, because people in your immediate network can reveal the identity (if you haven’t done so yourself). This becomes defamation at the least, and can cost you your job. Think before you post, it could be career suicide.

Consider your tone

Bragging, constant critiquing and complaining doesn’t sit well with readers and followers. If, for instance, Twitter has become a place to vent, people may associate you and your business with that tone of voice, which is bad business publicity.

Represent an accurate and realistic range of tones.

Keep it real and try to keep it balanced if you can. Also consider that people can’t always tell your tone online. If you’re being sarcastic and people can’t tell, it might be time to be more direct.

Sometimes it’s better to ignore than to engage

No matter what you write about (people, furniture, kids, pets), someone out there will criticise it. There are people who come with intention to attack every view on social media. It’s easy to fall into the trap of a Twitter war or Facebook comment battle, but sometimes, learn to let it go. Unless real damage is being caused to your reputation, stay out of it or respond with a simple factual response.

Don’t demand reciprocation

Calling for attention to gain a higher following can seem calculated and insincere. Bottom line? Follow, friend, like or pin something because you really want to, not because you expect something in return.

Beware of overshare

Nothing seems to deter online readers and audiences more than a picture/comment/post that crosses the line of communication tone established. Maintain the theme and character of your posts, especially on the specific platforms. No need to change your lifestyle, just know your audience.

Farhad Bhyat is CEO of specialist social media risk mitigation company Farosian.

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