I recently we saw an interesting story online about inappropriate use of Twitter. A 17 year old, Paris Brown, was found to have tweeted offensive massages when she was 15 that contained materials of a sexual, violent, racist and homophobic nature. The Daily Mail posted an article online asking whether the “foul mouthed twitter teen” should be placed in role as a youth crime commissioner.  Falling victim to her own misfortunes Brown publicly apologised stating that she was “naive and stupid” and was “just showing off”.  Even though her employers stood by her, Brown has since stood down from her role.

So where did she go wrong?

Social media is very much a public domain, with an even bigger audience. The way that you conduct yourself through your social media platforms can last forever. In the social media world we class this as your digital footprint. Simply anything that you say or do on Facebook, for example, is imprinted in the ether. Digital footprints are the trails we leave behind on the digital environment. Almost everyone at some point has been guilty of sharing too much information, posting something controversial or uploading suspect pictures. Furthermore, understanding and managing your digital footprint can be made difficult because you can’t always control what other people say or do. With most platforms allowing you to tag and post, what other people do also contributes to your digital footprints. It is now common practice for businesses to screen interview delegates when recruiting for new roles, using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Building a picture into the way your potential employee conducts themselves can reveal the social activity the delegate has outside of work. Also, companies that have social media policies are using social media to aid them in terminating contracts because of the way certain employees have acted in relation to the businesses brand image.

When managing your digital footprint you need to consider the bigger picture. What have you previously done through your social media platforms? How do you want to be perceived? Who is going to be seeing your profiles? From there you would want to start by checking your trail and cleaning it up. By simply doing a Google search you can find anything that maybe negative to delete. Then, you should limit your profile searchability using the setting controls on your social media channels.

Most platforms allow you to disable the ability for anyone to publicly search for you.  Another way to control who sees your profile is to go through the privacy settings. This allows you to control who and what is being posted on your network feeds, remove your post from public view and filter your friends. Lastly make sure that your profile pictures and images that you post are appropriate. Even if you change your privacy setting to just being viewable to your friends, your profile picture is still on display. When actively using social media you have to think smart before you post anything. By doing this you can save yourself a lot of trouble; a lesson Paris Brown has very much learnt. Don’t let inappropriate behaviour now; stop you from getting that dream job in the future. Think, you are your own advocate and your own brand.