This month AVG celebrates the second anniversary of its Digital Diaries research, an ongoing series which identifies the digital trends that are shaping today’s youth.
For Digital Baggage, our sixth instalment, AVG surveyed 4,400 young adults aged 18 – 25 years old around the world, in order to gauge how they manage their social profiles, and determine the point at which our professional and personal lives begin to blur.
Not surprisingly, we discovered that most young adults in this age group (including 58% of Americans) admit to checking banned social networks via their smartphones while at work.
And while one in eight young professionals go online to vent work-related frustrations, only 40% adjust their privacy settings to make sure their opinions aren’t seen by their employers—25% of whom (one- third in the US) happen to be their Facebook friends!
But, young professionals everywhere aren’t just blowing off steam — 80% of Spaniards are posting unsuitable pictures online compared to 21% in the US.
Although this age group is undeniably web savvy, it’s interesting to note that while half wish they could remove inappropriate photos, over half don’t even consider going back to edit their online profiles.
These so-called digital profiles we all leave online have become resumes of sorts that follow us everywhere we go. It certainly makes sense for us all to take responsibility in managing our digital footprints—only 43% report doing so. But where do we start?
AVG created an excellent guide called How to be Facebook friends with your boss and keep your job and video (watch below) to help young professionals manage their online profiles and to demonstrate the pitfalls of not doing so. I recommend that everyone read this guide in full, but here are a few points that are simply a must:
1. Think before you post.
Obvious, right? But I know many of us often post when our judgment is clouded by the need to respond in real time without thinking it through. How many times do we say something aloud that we wish we hadn’t? The same thing happens online, except now it’s out there for everyone to see. And just as you need to think before you post, you need to think after you post. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or some other social account, look back on what you’ve posted over the days, weeks, and even years. What may seem appropriate one minute may not be so okay the next.
2. Customize your privacy settings.
For many of us, Facebook is a melting pot of people who’ve touched our lives at different times and in different ways. And yet we talk to them as if they’re all in the same room. Using your privacy settings to segment who you say what to will help keep your posts from getting you into hot water ( when in doubt, it’s better to just defer to tip #1).
3. Know and respect your company’s social media policies.
Even if your company doesn’t have a social media policy, you can still be fired for disobeying it! So err on the side of caution when using social media to avoid saying something that your employer would probably disapprove of. In fact, when it comes to talking about your employer, even on personal accounts it’s best to think of yourself as someone speaking about the company in an official capacity. This will help prevent accidentally leaking trade secrets or damaging the reputation of your organization—all of which can lead to your dismissal.
4. Give yourself an online audit.
AVG’s guide mentions several excellent resources for identifying and cleaning up your online profile. Google Alerts, Google Dashboard, SocialMention, and WhosTalking are just some of the sites and resources to check out.
5. Launch a steady stream of positive contributions.
Use the web to your advantage. Start with LinkedIn, and don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations once you’ve built up your profile and connections. Get on Twitter, create a blog, launch a website to collate a steady stream of positive contributions to your online profile and all the community-building social interactions they create.
What are you doing to better manage your digital footprint? Have you or someone you know posted something that put you in an employer’s bad graces? Watch our video below about how things could go so badly wrong.