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Social Media, Privacy, and Your Brand

In September 2014, as part of many changes to come for their privacy program, Facebook began to roll out something called privacy checkups. It is a built-in feature that reminds you when you’re posting something publicly. There’s a pretty good tutorial about it here:

Read more after the jump…


This quick tutorial in using the privacy settings on individual posts may seem basic, but it’s easy to forget that you can (and probably should) be aware of who is reading your posts. Every post you make can be customized to a specific audience. You can choose to share the post with only “friends,” or a specific group of people you can choose by typing their usernames in, or you can choose to exclude specific groups of people by making a list of them. Keep in mind though that unless you use the “Only Me” feature, anyone who is in your allowed group can take a screenshot of your post and share it far and wide.

This is important to remember when working on a personal brand. Facebook may not seem like a place where you need to be concerned with what you say, specifically because it’s a closed group of friends unless you have a public profile, but anything you say can become public very quickly despite your best intentions and intelligent use of privacy settings.

For example, based on a 2012 Pew Research Study published as an infographic in 2013, teenagers are a specifically active group on social media and they don’t protect their privacy as actively as they could. 64% of teens with Twitter have public profiles. 14% of teens with Facebook have completely public profiles. 33% of teens are “friends” with people on Facebook that they’ve never met.

None of these statistics are inherently negative, but it is important to increase the literacy of students as they go to college, and then eventually are on the job market. Educating oneself about the nature of social networks and how to best utilize them early on is one way to boost your chances of success later. Everything we say and write online is stored and becomes part of our digital footprint.

Meanwhile the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse proposes five types of social networks as follows:

The folks there have a lot to say about these different types of networks and how best to use them, so click on over and read about each type in more detail. Can you guess which social media platforms belong in which category?

In addition to understanding the types of social media sites out there, you need to keep on top of how they change over time. There are many bloggers and websites that periodically review changes in social media, privacy alerts, and also discuss personal and professional branding.

One of my favorites is professional social media manager Tereza Litza. She blogs on LinkedIn about her experiences managing professional brands and a lot of her advice carries over to personal branding as well. In a recent blog post about the 9 mistakes you might be making on social media, she quotes Jason Squires and adds useful tips. I’ll echo my three favorite recommendations here, but if you want to read them in full detail, click on over to her post:

  • Focus on quality, rather than quantity
  • Focus on what works
  • Follow the rules for each network

She posted this article on We R Social Media, which I find a great source for social media tools and ways to measure your audience!

In January, I will be writing a follow-up post that goes into more detail about the Facebook changes for the new year. Keep the PennWIC Blog on lock!

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