managing your own reputation online

by Sarah Williams

Employers are increasingly turning to social media as part of the recruitment process. Whether you view this as a gross invasion of privacy or just a sign of the times, it is fast becoming the norm, so how far should you take this into consideration in your online life?

Nowadays, it isn't enough to simply be present on social media, you also need to be active, but exactly how much sharing should you do? More and more employers are looking at online profiles as part of the recruitment process, as this BBC news programme confirms, so do you play it safe and look after your reputation or throw caution to the wind and let everything 'hang out' online?

There are dangers inherent in both approaches: if everyone were to adopt a safe, corporate approach to their online interactions then social media would be a more boring place for all, and would undoubtedly lose its appeal for many; while over-sharing funny stories of your drunken antics and what you had for lunch can also be tedious for those not involved.

Social media is pervasive and hard to avoid in our society and so, despite reservations about freedom of speech, I remain convinced that it is important to curate your online presence in some way, but certainly not in a way that leaves you looking devoid of personality, interests and passion.  Any profile which focuses entirely on promoting your corporate skills and competences is to be avoided, especially in the creative industries which thrive on people and ideas rather than skills and competencies alone.

Ultimately it is your choice to get involved in social media networks and you do have the freedom to decide for yourself what, how much and how frequently you share information about your life, but projecting an image you are comfortable with and understanding your audience's perceptions of that image, are good, basic PR skills too. 

Remember perception is the reality.

Sarah Williams is a university lecturer in PR at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School.

Manchester Metropolitan University offers both BA (Hons) in Public Relations & Digital Communications and MSc International Public Relations.

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