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With every like, post, retweet, share, follow, unfollow, comment, and thumbs up, you are projecting a message of who you are. So what? Why should you care what people on social media think of you?  Because a first impression is a lasting impression.

First impressions are made subconsciously, before our conscious mind takes over. It happens very quickly – within seven seconds to be exact.  

We make first impressions when meeting someone new. This used to be in person or over the phone, but now social media platforms are the primary way first impressions are formed.

Bosses, co-workers, law enforcement, colleges, professors, neighbors, friends, etc. these people are all on social media.  80% of employers will do a quick Google search of a candidate before inviting them to an interview. And do you know where a google search pulls information from? You got it! Social networking sites.

If you remember the Fabergé Organic Shampoo commercial with Heather Locklear, you’ll remember that word can travel fast.  You just never know who knows your boss; and in today’s warp speed age of information you won’t have time to “take it back.”

Even if your profile is private and the only thing the public can see is your profile picture, that is enough to create a first impression.

Say for instance if a person’s profile picture shows them holding a child you will most likely make some type of guess – oh they are a parent, that is their grandchild, this person likes children, etc., Or if the person is wearing a football jersey, you may associate that this person likes football. 

There is no such thing as privacy on social media.  Digital footprints are nearly impossible to avoid or delete. Today’s screenshot capabilities, GPS tracking apps, media tagging, facial recognition software, and automatic “check-in” settings have made it almost impossible to go undetected.

With the recent wave of political figures, and our newly elected President, using social media to make announcements and to state stances on important issues, the undercurrent of social media and the role it plays in our daily lives has changed.

Social media has morphed into a place where individuals project who they are. Essentially creating their own brand. 

We’ve created a list of 7 things you should stop doing on social media and a few questions to ask yourself before you begin posting anything.

  1. Stop pretending to be someone you’re not. 
  2. Stop oversharing.
  3. Stop stating your personal opinions about your job.
  4. Stop posting photographs where you are nude or revealing too much skin.
  5. Stop flashing your money.
  6. Stop associating yourself with things that are illegal or could get you arrested.
  7. Stop sharing personal information.

The most important thing to do before posting anything on social media is to stop and think. Ask yourself the following questions before communicating through social media.  

  1. Will anyone really care about this content besides me?
  2. Is social media the appropriate platform to share this info?
  3. How many times have I already posted something today?
  4. Did I spell check?
  5. Will I be okay with absolutely anyone seeing this?
  6. Could posting this information get me attacked, fired, or in trouble with the law?
  7. Is this post too vague? Will everyone understand what I’m saying?
  8. Is this just me venting?

People make judgments based on what they see. As the saying goes you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but often times if the cover doesn’t attract you, you will never read the book. 

If you're using social media irresponsibly, without regard or care, it can lead you down a path of self-sabotaging your relationships and image, both personally and professionally.

You are in charge of how you will be perceived. What you communicate through photos, likes, shares as well as who you connect with all become part of your personal brand. Make sure your posts, pictures, comments and the community you are connected with are adding to your value and helping make a strong first-impression.

Text messagingWith all of the new technology and apps in 2015 we have the ability to share our photos, videos, opinions, etc. with people all over the world. Although we have the ability to share and post, you need to remember that it is important not to overshare and to post anything that could reap negative consequences or actions.

Do resist the urge to comment on EVERYTHING. Not everyone wants to hear your opinion. Make sure you actually have something to contribute to the conversation before you include yourself. 

Don’t post pictures that show your friends or family in an unflattering light without their permission.

Do get permission to post.  When taking photos, make sure everyone knows you intend to post it online so they have a chance to opt-out.  If you copy something from someone else’s page, give them credit for it.  And if you take pictures of children, make very sure you have their parents’ permission. 

Don’t be too personal on your site. Not everyone is comfortable knowing the intimate details of your last breakup or your current medical problem.

Do be careful when posting your location. You might not want everyone to know where you are all the time.

Don’t be a bully. Bullying online is the same as bullying in person. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Do refuse requests as you see fit. It’s your site. If you don’t want someone to see your page, that is your preference.

Remember that everything you post on the Internet is PERMANENT. Even if you delete the picture or video, a digital footprint is left that can be easily searched. Once you post something, you have very little control over how many people will see it. This is especially important when you are interviewing for jobs and colleges.

A common understanding of etiquette has been drastically morphed over the years.   It seems as though today’s younger generation is characterized by rudeness, compared to traditional standards of etiquette. Many people believe that technology plays a central role in the decline of good manners and the media agrees.

Talkin on the Phone During Dinner

The integration of technology and social media into nearly each and every act of interpersonal communication, particularly among young people, is changing the common understanding of what is considerate behavior and what is inappropriate. The less face-time people have with others, the less accountable they are for their behavior.  If someone is rude or inappropriate online, they may never have to answer for their behavior in-person.  It is difficult to understand the virtual implications of inconsiderate treatment.

With mobile technology, people can expand their social circles and connect instantaneously with anyone.  While the number of friends we have may be increasing, often the quality of those friendships, particularly with those people we actually do see face-to-face, is declining. The more time people spend expanding their circle of friends online, the less time they spend cultivating healthy and satisfying relationships in person.

Mobile communications and social media have re-shaped the understanding and awareness of etiquette both virtually and in-person.  Have you ever been invited to spend time with someone, then been ignored by that person because they were texting or calling others?  If so you have witnessed the effects of technology on interpersonal communication. The Internet, mobile devices, and social media are critical to us and for businesses.

Don’t ever forget that face to face interactions are just as important.  Make the goal of your day focus on kindness, courtesy and consideration for everyone you meet – virtually and in-person.

Technology makes it incredibly easy to share photos these days.  Gone are the days when the time lapse for film developing helped us make appropriate decisions about the pictures we made public.

Just in case your inner editor is on hiatus this holiday season and you have the urge to post every photo on your smartphone, please allow us to bring you back to reality.

Sharing memorable photos is a beautiful and appreciated thing.  But it is important to consider if they are truly beautiful, and appreciated, before posting them for all to see.