Twice a year we change our clocks to abide by the controversial daylight savings time, at which time we are told to change our smoke detector batteries. Once a year in October, retailers, television networks, nonprofits, and average citizens blanket the world in pink to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Heck, there is even Movember, during which men grow facial hair to raise awareness of men’s health issues, which competes with the likes of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). All of these events bring annual attention to a particular topic and call people to action, whether it be changing one’s batteries, getting screened for cancer, growing a mustache, or writing a novel. While the safety of our humble abodes and family health will always be paramount, we should not neglect our online and social health.
In a time when some employers are asking for social log-ins during the hiring process and many companies use social media to vet employees or learn more about vendors or business partners, why not take time to run your online and social checkup? Go ahead, Google yourself––I’ll wait. What did you find? A public-facing LinkedIn profile, tweets, press releases, or embarrassing photos? Depending on your celebrity and the uniqueness of your first and last names, you may have some heavy competition for the top results. For instance, if you shared a full name with an English soccer star (with a pretty sweet theme song), you would have to add several search operators like the minus sign (-soccer, -football, -athlete) to eliminate any online content associated with the soccer star to finally get a result relevant to you in particular.
Here is your prescription:
- Google yourself. Examine the search results and add search operators to eliminate the noise to get to the good stuff. Either way, clip the results to your Evernote notebook, or if you must, print out the results and store in a file folder hidden, unsearchable, in some dreaded physical file cabinet. Regardless of your storage preference, keep note of what changes over time.
- Social profile review. Depending on your search results and your social media account settings, you may find profile details, posts, or other details strewn around the net for anyone to pilfer, exploit, mock, or fact-check. Make a list of the profiles that are easily found through search engine activity. Then dive down into each account settings page by platform to determine what content you want to limit access to and how to limit that content.
- Ask the tough question, what is your brand? Other people are, or will be at some point in the near future, using your online/social presence (or lack thereof) to vet you for something or learn about the brand called “you.” What does a Google search, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yelp, blog, or Facebook account portray about who you are? A smattering of personal info or interests may make you seem more approachable and human if that is the message you want to portray. Your “brand” can and will change as your personal and professional lives progress, but during those different stages in your life, what persona does your social presence promote? Complete a brain dump (mind map) of what makes your brand unique, then hone your social presence to fit the brand that you want others to see.
Competing with the likes of Movember and NaNoWriMo is difficult, but how about this? Regardless of what you do, about every 28 days you experience a full moon, and––except for those in extreme latitudes during summer months––this large, glowing rock in the sky should stand as a reminder to perform your social checkup. Twelve or so times per year isn’t a big investment. So every full moon, complete the three steps of the social checkup. Maybe you could even perform your checkup under the full moon––just find some moonlight with Wi-Fi and let the checkup begin. See you under the moon.
Author: John Carew