Google's Making a List and Checking it Twice (4 min read)


‘Tis the season of family get-togethers, office parties, and general holiday merriment! With this, we are sure to see social media accounts generously sprinkled with photos from “Ugly” Christmas sweater parties or joyous accounts of festive dinners at grandmother’s house. You know, wonderful scenes with well-dressed couples and scrubbed clean, happily smiling and well-mannered children frolicking amongst piles of freshly discarded wrapping paper.

Mixed in with the lovely family portraits and heartfelt season’s greetings abound, you may also stumble upon a few candid photos of someone who may have…over imbibed at their family or office holiday party, causing a scene or perhaps even more entertaining, a heartfelt, ALL CAPS and gloriously framed social media argument between your friend and their politically polar opposite relative. Frankly, depending on circumstances, holidays can be stressful and social media can be the go-to place for some folks to share personal successes and drama with friends and loved ones. So, as you enjoy some eggnog and snuggle up next to your various devices this holiday season, you may want to take the time and evaluate your social media strategy and maybe even cleanup your pages a bit.           

The question is, are you using your social media as a professional networking tool or as a place to stay connected with distant friends and loved ones? Perhaps both? As many have learned, social media can be a very powerful tool for either.

It’s easy to observe that in recent times, the lines are blurring between personal (Facebook and Instagram), public (Twitter), professional (LinkedIn), and private lives (Snapchat). In the past, you may have worked with someone for decades without truly knowing intimate details of their personal life or their opinion on obscure or even mainstream subject matters. In many cases, it would have been deemed rude to even ask…or especially to share. However, the times they are a changing and with a few quick clicks one can now discover far more about current or future co-workers than one may have ever wanted to know.

If you are going to connect and interact with co-workers, clients, and others within a professional environment, then you may want to consider viewing your social media lives with a different lens. Social media can be an amazing tool to highlight oneself within a professional setting. Posts about traveling to industry conferences, attending seminars, or pictures from work events can provide you an opportunity to shine and show that you are truly an active member of the local or national business community you serve. If clients, vendors, or customers alike complete their due diligence on you or your organization and observe that you are a mover and a shaker it may help cement the decision that you are in fact the person or organization with whom they should partner. And there is another side of the holiday cookie to consider…the recruitment angle.

From a recruiting perspective, your social media profiles can represent a valuable or detrimental showcase. If a potential employer is perhaps interested in hiring you and conducts a Google search or even a social media screen as part of a formal background process, observing a well-curated professional, rather than a case study in personal drama may also make a significant impact on the decision to hire you…or not.

This doesn’t necessarily mean your social media profiles cannot feature tasteful touches of your personal life. In fact, throwing in some homelife highlights and glimpses of personal hobbies may further showcase you as the well-rounded individual you have become and help provide content to help connect with other professionals on their own level. For example, sharing highlights from a recent vacation or a sporting event that you attended may provide a base for a potential conversation, perhaps leading to more substantial interactions.

But, if you do intend to mix business with pleasure, Please. Just. Keep. It. Positive.

You probably don’t really need to elaborate how much the vacation was a bust because your aunt Betty ruined things and argued with you the entire time or that your team lost, and your friends wanted to leave at halftime. Knowing what is appropriate to discuss in different social situations was once a common aspect of everyday life and the advent of an online living simply adds an additional level of complexity.

Frankly, you can still maintain some personal spheres online where maybe you have those heartfelt debates and post your deepest wants and desires for the world to see. However, if you must do this, please be aware that everything posted on the internet is there forever and that online privacy settings fail every day. Most of the major social media networks are taking privacy concerns more and more seriously so consider taking advantage of those settings and actually using them. Also, it’s probably a good idea to define your limitations and make clear distinctions between your personal and professional lives if you are uncomfortable with your persona being accessed by business colleagues. You might also want to think twice before adding Linda from accounting or Bob from sales to your personal social media pages if you prefer to maintain a healthy wall between your business and professional worlds.

So, while you’re maintaining your social media lists, and checking them twice, try to determine what’s naughty or nice because posted material is sticking around. You better watch out, others will pry, curate your posts I’m telling you why, they’re searchable by others while you’re sleeping, some even show when your active online and awake, strangers can see if you’ve been bad or good so try and only post good for goodness’s sake. And most importantly, Happy Holidays to you and yours from the team at Anderson|Biro!