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Managing Your Online Reputation: A College Student’s Perspective

Looking for a job in this economy is tough, but looking for one when you don’t understand social media and reputation management makes it near impossible.

People are quick to engage in Web 2.0 and set up profiles on social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, in order to stay connected with people and trends. However, some don’t take the time to think about the repercussions if these sites are not used in a responsible and professional manner.

Social Networking Gone Bad

As a senior public relations major at Kent State University, my professors have covered various topics and issues related to social media over the past four years. I was forewarned at the beginning of my job search that your social media footprints can and will be tracked.

A Few Things to Keep In Mind With Social Media and Reputation Management

  • One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is even if your Facebook profile is set to “private,” guess what? It’s not. Privacy settings can only protect you to a certain extent, but nothing on the Internet is off-limits.
  • Once you put something into cyber space, it will remain forever.
  • Prospective employers will look you up on social networking sites to find out more about you before interviewing or hiring.
  • People need to be more careful about how they portray themselves in the social media world. It’s important to always think twice before clicking those “update” and “tag” buttons. 
  • Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to be seen doing in public. 

Advantages to Using Social Media

This doesn’t mean we’re all doomed to be ruined by Facebook or Twitter. Here are some positive ways to use social networking sites:

  • Twitter is a great way to follow industry professionals and make valuable connections.
  • Creating a LinkedIn profile allows you to post your experience and credentials while networking with influential professionals.
  • Facebook provides opportunities to keep in touch with people and express your personality through groups, photos and other applications.  

However, it’s a good idea to regularly clean up your profiles and practice good behavior. If you wouldn’t want your boss, clients, professors or grandparents to see it, then don’t post it.

Arielle Williams is an intern at PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. She is a senior public relations major who is eager to begin her professional career. You can follow her on Twitter: @ArielleWilliams.

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