Social Media Checklist: Improving Your Online Presence

With about 70 percent of Canadian Internet users regularly using social media and two-thirds of all Canadians having at least one social networking profile, the effects of the social media age are difficult to overstate. The preponderance of social media options has impacted virtually every area of life-from relationships to recreation, to the workplace. While social media offers significant benefits, however, it also comes with potentials dangers. Use the following checklist to evaluate our social media habits and to build an online presence that can be beneficial personally and professionally.

  1. Define your purpose. What do you want to accomplish through your use of social media?
  2. identify your audience. Who are the people you want to engage?
  3. Choose your platforms. Identify the two or three options that will best enable you to create your personal brand and express your message to your desired audience. Avoid having “ghost profiles” on platforms you’re not going to use regularly.
  4. Regulate your content. References to questionable or illegal activities could cause serious harm to your online reputation and eliminate career opportunities.
  5. Highlight your skills and interests. Recognizing that current and potential employers may access your profile, showcase your competencies for them to see. Share information and resources others can use, but avoiding bragging about yourself.
  6. Proofread. Using proper spelling and correct grammar can go along way toward establishing your desired profile, while mistakes can quickly damage your image.
  7. Engage in discussion. Don’t be a spectator on social media; get involved. Participate in ongoing discussions and start a few of your own.
  8. Display your credibility. While others may be content to speak out of ignorance, your aim should be to speak knowledgeably on different topics, thus building your credibility.
  9. Filter offensive posts. Unless your goal is to be controversial, avoid posting anything that is going to be rude, inappropriate, or overly opinionated.
  10. Avoid emotional outbursts. Allowing venomous anger, personal attacks, or slanderous criticisms to seep into the content you post can (and will) come back to haunt you. Wait until you calm down and can objectively consider the potential consequences of posting.
  11. Be positive. An overly critical or negative online presence will turn people away more than it attracts.
  12. Be respectful and considerate. The golden rule says to treat others the way you would have them treat you. Consider the desires and potential impact your posts could have on others.
  13. Get permission. If posting photos of others, show them the courtesy of asking permission first. This step is especially important if the person who took the picture would have had an expectation of privacy, and there might be legal consequences for posting without permission.
  14. Choose your privacy settings carefully. Set your privacy options high enough to protect your personal information, but at the same time, avoid setting them so high that you become invisible or unidentifiable.
  15. Monitor your online presence. Regularly evaluate and tweak the image you are projecting online, including your profiles, your content, and the frequency of your posts.

By considering the online presence you wish to establish and practicing good habits while using social media, you can present yourself to the world as someone who can be trusted and who has something of value to offer. An unexamined social media life may not achieve the desired results, but by intentionally directing your social media activity, you can accomplish your goals and create the online presence you want.

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