With well over 500 million people using Facebook these days, it’s no secret that Mr. Zuckerberg’s little college project has turned into a social media juggernaut. Facebook is the place we go to in order to connect with friends, to talk about and share pictures of all the exciting things in our lives, and, yes, waste a boatload of time. But, hey, it sure is a lot of fun!
That said, if you’re not careful about what you’re sharing, Facebook can also be detrimental to your reputation. One seemingly innocuous post can have disastrous consequences, hurting your chances of being accepted to a school or even being offered that dream job.
That’s why we’ve come up with these five tips for making sure you get the most out of Facebook and ensuring that it supports, rather than hurts, your personal brand.
#5 – Only Share The Best Version Of Yourself!
Don’t let people you want to impress – admissions officers and potential employers, for example – come across anything incriminating about you on your Facebook Timeline. Make sure to delete anything that would make people believe you’re anything less than an ideal candidate. Adjust your bio, profile, images, and tags so that they support your college, graduate school, or job applications. If you have unflattering Facebook images (not ones that make you look chubby, but any that make you seem irresponsible or show you engaging in underage drinking or other illegal or questionable activities), go through your Timeline and hide those items so they don’t get seen by admissions reps and employers. Think of it as a rescue operation for your reputation!
#4 – Don’t Let Others Ruin Your Personal Brand.
Just because you’re being careful about what you put your Facebook Timeline doesn’t mean that incriminating photos of you can’t sneak their way inside – like when someone else posts a picture on their Timeline and then tags you in it. That’s why you have to stay vigilant and make sure that others don’t muddy your online rep. The best way to keep your online image as impressive as possible is by preventing embarrassing info from cropping up in the first place.
Once you’ve polished up your online image, adjust your Facebook tag and viewing settings for images and posts so that you and only you control what appears on your Timeline when others search you.
#3 – Be Careful Who You Friend.
We all know that there are unscrupulous individuals out there who spend their days sending out spam, phishing for information, and trying to hack into our computers and our lives. Unfortunately, it’s just a reality of the Internet, and Facebook is no safe haven from their diabolical doings. According to a 2012 CNN report, up to 83 million Facebook profiles are fakes, and 14.3 million of those are “undesirable,” which means they’re not innocent accounts for pets, nor accidental duplicates, but aliases of folks who have something to hide, are phishing for info, or looking to spam. It can be tempting to try to build up your number of connections, but don’t accept Facebook Friend requests from just anyone. It’s simple: if you don’t know them, don’t Friend them!
#2 – Impress People With Your Facebook Timeline
Too many people think of Facebook as just a place to snoop on others or waste time. But when used properly, it can end up being a valuable tool for documenting all the great things you do. Think of your Facebook Timeline as a virtual scrapbook or visual history of your ENTIRE life. By utilizing the Life Event interface, you can add things like a new job, volunteer work, or a study abroad experience—any of which can help make your Timeline a really nice overview of your life and something you’ll want to show to people you want to impress, like admissions reps or potential employers.
#1 – Save Your Feed For Your Close Friends
If you don’t want to spend all day weeding through your Facebook feed to find updates from the people you actually care about, use the Close Friends setting to create a stream of just those people who’s posts are important to you. You can also create a custom list and give it any name you want. Either method will help you quickly monitor your feed and weed out all the nonsense, allowing you to focus your time more efficiently.
Facebook can be a great tool for staying in touch with others and showing the world what you’re up to and what you’re all about. Just be sure to use it wisely so you’re not wasting valuable time that you could be spending on other important things—like checking your Twitter feed! Or your LinkedIn. Or your Pinterest page. Or your Instagram…etc.