Social Media Guidelines for Students

It's time to make your social network work for you!

Elizabeth Hoyt

August 15, 2016

Social Media Guidelines for Students

In today’s world, you’re going to get Googled at some point. But, don’t fret – just make social media work for (rather than against) you!

Remember, those performing an online search for you – employers, colleges and scholarship providers – aren’t on a mission to find dirt, gossip or disqualifications.

Most likely, they are simply just trying to learn more about you as a candidate.

That’s why it’s important to try to be equally aware of what you do include within your social media presence, just as much as what you do not want associated with you.

Is social media working for or against you? It’s time to make your social network work for you!

Here’s a guide for you to follow when posting on social media accounts.

Do: Have an online presence.
Since they will be searching for you, give them something to find that will reflect positively on your personal character.

Don’t: Upload anything that you wouldn’t want EVERYONE to see.
When posting items online, never assume that only some of your friends, family or other specific people within your social network will have access to it. Regardless of your privacy settings, policies change, accounts are hacked and leaks do happen.

Here are a few general guidelines you should always follow when it comes to your social media activity:

• Be respectful of others’ posts, even if you don’t agree with them.

• Personalize the posts you share with your network so they enjoy viewing your unique posts.

• Share information you think others would enjoy or find useful.

• Be mindful when posting personal information such as your location, when you’re going on vacation, etc. Do you really know everyone that well within your network that you trust him or her with that information? It’s highly doubtful.

• Verify those you accept into your social network. You should be cautious about accepting any random “friends.”

• Maintain the highest privacy settings, but don’t always assume they’ll work for you.

• Check out your online presence by Googling yourself (and search for your profile while logged out of your social networks) to see what you can find.

In general, you should avoid posting the following:

• Negative comments, posts or messages

• Questionable or compromising photos of yourself OR others

• Offensive jokes, photos or material

• Overt bragging

• Highly emotional content, like rants about personal situations or relationships

Remember, once you post something online, it’s there forever.

Nothing is ever lost! Even if you delete items, it’s scary how accessible they remain on other people’s servers and accounts.

There’s no way to be absolutely certain that what you post will remain private. Never rely on privacy settings to hide what you don’t want certain people to see.

That being said, you should still maintain secure settings so that you can approve who views your profiles or posts.

Create networks divided into business contacts, family and friends so you are able to tailor your posts to the correct audience. Posting to the right audience will ensure that those connected to you find your posts more valuable than constant, random posts about topics that are unrelated to them. (Make sure you still assume everyone can see all of your posts.)

There’s no such thing as true anonymity.
Even if you create a post or share something online “anonymously,” it’s actually a lot easier than you might think to track it back to you. Even if you’re posting as an anonymous user, never post something you wouldn’t want associated with your name or profile.

Your number one rule should be:

If you don’t want someone to be able to see something, don’t post it at all.

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