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What We Do Online Matters

Our Facebook and Twitter accounts are no longer anonymous platforms to voice whatever opinion we have without consequence. Social media is quickly becoming our first impression; especially as our digital footprint becomes easier to find. Don’t believe me? Google yourself.

Several companies have been developed as a reaction to this cultural shift, companies with the sole purpose of promoting and maintaining your cyber reputation. Consider reputation.com, a company that promises to help you “control your own online reputation, and all the private data that includes.” Although their main goal is to help protect personal information, they are also concerned with protecting your online reputation.

Why These Companies Exist

There are three very important lessons that we can glean from the mere existence of these types of companies:

  1. Social Media, or any other publicly published platform, is not the place to publish social security numbers, credit card numbers, or a list of your greatest weaknesses.
  2. If you make a fool of yourself on Facebook or Twitter, you’re making a fool of yourself — period.
  3. Lots of people do not consider the first two lessons.

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So What Can You Do?

There is no substitute for common sense when it comes to social media. Remember, you are painting a portrait of yourself with every status update and every tweet. Treat social media as you would any other public forum—with respect and dignity and a keen eye for norms and expectations.

Your social media presence is likely to be your first impression to a prospective employer, new friend or even (God help us) a future lover. Do you really want them to see all the Lolzcats you’ve re-posted? Maybe you do. Maybe you are proud of your Lolzcats pretension. The important thing is to remember that what you do on the Internet impacts others’ opinions of who you are as a person. So, as long as you can go to bed each night with a clean cyber-conscience, chances are you’re doing a good job.

David Pemberton, Editor, Social Media + PR, AREA203 Digital; follow… @Dave_Your_Fave

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