Digital Self Marketing AdvantageSocial media offers a bit of the Wild Wild West on the World Wide Web.

Almost anything goes.

There are no white hat Internet guardians. No grammar police. No great firewall censors.

Unless you and your social activity fear the consequences of a Google slap, the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm, a LinkedIn Group penalty box, or a Twitter spam block, you can pretty much do as you please within the reasonable guidelines of respective social media platforms.

However, this does not mean you should always “let it all hang out.”

This holds most true if you use the social web for professional reasons, particularly for personal branding and the job search.

While I have written about the importance of personal branding and reputation in a previous blog post, here are my:

10. Do Google “your name.”

Google is often described as the new resume. So, anyone that wants to know more about you or that receives a resume or application from you is highly likely to ask Google about you. The results of this Google search are one of many things that define your personal brand.

What others think of you is your “personal brand image.” What you want others to think of you is your “personal brand identity.” If there is a difference, then the proper and professional use of social media is an important way to supplement, correct, direct and control how others may see you on the social web.

Read: Google Yourself to Manage Your Brand

“If you do not define and control your personal brand identity, then others and Google will do it for you.”

9. Do lock-down your personal Facebook.

From a personal branding perspective, it is disheartening to learn that teens are moving their personal social sharing activities from the more private environment of friends and family on Facebook to the very public environment of mostly strangers and unknowns on Twitter.

“With personal branding, what happens in Facebook should stay in Facebook.”

What others can find by Googling your name can help or hurt your educational and professional ambitions. So, before you allow the general public to see your Facebook page or you choose to share your private self on Twitter or Google+, each social share should pass the Mom test.

The mom test: are you okay for your mother [or current/potential employer] to see your Facebook content or social shares?

If not, then lock-down your personal Facebook.

8. Do create a social profile that reflects your career focus [or expertise].

Tell others, including potential employers, how you want them to see you: (1) who are you, (2) what is your expertise or career focus/interests, (3) what makes you different, and (4) what will you social share. Then repeat this profile and a headshot photo across all active social media platforms.

Focus and consistency across your social media are of most importance for personal branding and when using social media for career or professional purposes.

Your social media profile(s) should provide a confirmation of your chosen “personal brand identity.”

7. Do social share content relevant to your professional or career focus.

“You are what you Tweet or social share.”

Thus, if you Tweet about cats, then you must be a cat lover. And, unless you have career ambitions to involving cats, you are much better off publicly sharing content related to your current or future career.

Instead, social share helpful content that reflects what you are learning about your career focus/interests. This shows others, and potential employers, that you are a self-learner and keeping current in your chosen career focus, and another way to confirm your “personal brand identity.”

6. Don’t be that guy [or gal] that social shares with negativity or criticism.

While many marketers are monitoring the web to find problems and dissatisfied customers so they can improve their customer service, potential employers and other career stakeholders are also searching the web to find out more about you.

If trash talk, negative platitudes, or vengeful criticisms are needed to vent your consumer or human frustrations, then use the old school methods of phone, email, or a chat with friends to voice your complaints about others, brands, or companies.

Negativity is a downer. No one likes, hires, or promotes a whiner.

5. Do check your ego at the door.

No one loves a braggart or a narcissist.

Instead, be generous, likeable, and quick to: like, retweet, +1, pin, reshare, comment, thank you, say hello, join the conversation, and just be nice on the social web.

Save the me, me, me for the mirror, mirror, mirror (or your private Facebook).

4. Do social share and showcase your professional best.

Don’t share personal brand breaking bad behaviors, questionable selfies, poor grammar, misspelled words, offensive language or texting acronyms, or anything you would not want your high school English teacher or a current/potential employer to see.

3. Don’t social share drunken Tweets.

Step away from the smart phone before it makes you look dumb.

Creativity and wit while under the influence may not look as great by morning when early rising current or potential employers can see your tweets before you awaken.

2. Do forget about the vanity metrics.

The number of followers/connections, click-throughs, retweets, +1s, pins, or comments are not nearly as important as following the right people and learning from them.

Use social media as a personal learning network (PLN) and connect with experts and influencers in your career focus, your professors, your fellow students, and current/potential employers.

1. Do set up a LinkedIn account ASAP.

LinkedIn is the professional opposite of Facebook and should be treated as such. It is your online resume and so much more.

Complete your LinkedIn profile by adding: (1) a professional headshot photo, (2) a headline/tagline that defines your career focus [or expertise], (3) a summary of your best career qualifications, (4) your work and volunteer experiences, (5) education, (6) career relevant courses and projects, and (7) career relevant skills.

Then, began connecting with others, joining career relevant groups, and continue to build your resume and LinkedIn profile.

The Take-Away.

Defining and controlling your personal brand identity is important for many reasons, particularly if seeking employment, a career change, new relationships, or clients.

It is far too easy to harm a personal brand with inappropriate social media behaviors.

Remember, your friends are on Facebook. Your current/potential employers and career stakeholders are everywhere else on the social web, where a more professional consideration and behavior are required.

Do you have other recommendations for a more professional use of social media for personal branding? If so, then add to the comments below.

Image credit: photo by Denny McCorkle.

This article originally appeared on Digital Self Marketing Advantage and has been republished with permission.

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