With social media, it’s so easy to hide behind a screen and hit “send” that you don’t always consider the consequences of your digital footprint. Although Facebook and Instagram allow you to connect with like-minded people from all over the world, every comment or photo you post could potentially harm your reputation later on in life. This is where a social media clean up comes in handy.
A social media clean up may include anything from updating Facebook privacy settings to deleting questionable posts from Twitter. These small changes could potentially save your teen from a college rejection letter or even prevent a scandal during the job application process.
Keep scrolling to learn more about the importance of a social media clean up and how it can improve your child’s online presence.
1. Utilize the “Memories” tab in Facebook to bulk edit your old postsCat Smith, Get Social with Cat, @SocialWithCat
It’s so easy for students to put something out on social media that they’ll later regret. Almost no one has a spotless online presence. Now, Facebook accounts can go back 10 years. Yes, that is 10 years’ worth of old opinions, emotional moments, random polls that accidentally give out personal data. Just imagine going from ten years old to twenty in today’s online world. It could be very embarrassing.
One of my favorite features of Facebook is the “Memories” tab. This page is available on the left side menu under “Explore” or via the lower right menu in the app. Conveniently, your notifications and feed will give you a reminder that “you have memories”, so you don’t have to remember to visit that page every day.
Once you’ve clicked through to the Memories page, you will see all of the posts you made every year on this day, going back to when you joined Facebook. Trying to clean up your web presence as a whole can be a daunting task filled with anxiety. This is a convenient way to go back in time and take out things you wish you hadn’t said or shared.
You should always be hyper-vigilant about what opinions you share publicly because even if your profile is set to “private” and you pick and choose your friends, posting online is a PUBLIC forum. Think of the Memories Tab as your own personal time machine to go back and fix the small mistakes in your digital footprint.
2. Create profiles on high domain authority websitesSameer Somal, Blue Ocean Global Technology
Online Reputation is everything. We are presented with opportunities based on our reputations. Today, we interact with friends, family, and colleagues largely through text messages, email, and social media, where perception and reality are often confused.
Google and other Search Engines have made it easy to search for anything online. The emergence of social media allows negative comments to be shared and circulated among large numbers of internet users. Students must take proactive measures to build a positive digital reputation; they must also prevent and address negative or defamatory content.
Some digital assets that can be considered for proactive reputation management include:
- Have an active social media presence and coordinated approach for sharing content on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.
- Do a Google Test (Google search) for your name and evaluate your online presence.
- Create profiles on high domain authority websites like behance, and about.me, resume.com to build an online presence.
- Set up Google Alerts or Mention Alerts to help you keep track of content being published and curated about you.
- Use Facebook privacy for permissions to tag you in a photo or status in order to prevent any reputational damage that an inappropriate image shared by a friend/acquaintance may cause.
3. Review your Google search resultsAmy Kilvington, Blinds Direct, @BlindsDirectGB
First, revisit your privacy settings and make sure your profiles have your desired privacy level. On Facebook, you can also see how other people view your page by clicking ‘View as’ on your profile. Often, all posts will be private and the only images that are publicly available are your profile and cover photos, so make sure any embarrassing pictures are also removed! An easy way to do this is to bulk delete photo albums that may contain images you don’t want new colleagues or hiring managers to see.
There are also tools available (both free and paid) to scan through your social media profiles and flag any potentially embarrassing, offensive, or controversial posts, including comments you’ve left on other people’s content. One to consider is Scrubber.
Search yourself on Google to see what content you rank for. If anything comes up that you’re not happy with, be sure to delete it from the appropriate website or social channel. If you don’t have the ability to do this, you can submit an EU Privacy Removal to Google. If approved, certain web content that relates to your name can be deleted from the search results (although it won’t be deleted from the web completely).
4. For a fresh start, delete all social media posts before a given dateJustin Lavelle, PeopleLooker.com, @PeopleLooker
Building a positive digital footprint takes more than a post or two in the morning. It is an ongoing process throughout each day that many people do not have time for. Cleaning up old social media posts to create a more positive digital footprint poses a major challenge for many students, especially when they have hundreds, even thousands, of posts over a number of years. If you would like a fresh start begin by deleting all posts before or between given times. Additionally, websites like Hootsuite, TwitterDeck, and HubSpot allow users to manage their social media posts, track followers, schedule upcoming content, and more for little to no cost.
Join or create a Network Learning Space. A Network Learning Space, or NLS, is a community of like-minded people and/or professionals on social media and content sharing sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc. who exchange experiences, tips, support, and resources for a given topic. Your NLS can focus on any one or more niches, ranging from video game walkthroughs to parents of children with autism. Not only will a NLS demonstrate your knowledge of something you are passionate about, but it can also increase your online network and build your digital footprint.
5. Avoid sharing content that you wouldn’t want your teacher or potential employer to seeKaty Lowe, Passion Digital, @Passion_Digital
There are a few steps that students can take to ensure that their digital footprint is positive and won’t affect any of their future career prospects or opportunities.
- Don’t post negative, hateful, harmful or offensive things on your social media page (you can search through your old content to make sure that none of this content still exists from when you were younger).
- Don’t engage with negative or harmful content.
- Remember that everything you post online can stay there forever, and could also be seen by anybody (“don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t show your grandma” is a good rule to follow).
- Avoid sharing content that you wouldn’t want your teacher or potential employer to see.
- Sometimes strong or controversial opinions are better left off social media – writing can easily be misconstrued or taken out of context.
- Ensure your privacy settings are set to what you want them to be (many people aren’t actually aware of what their privacy settings are).
6. Encourage positive online behaviors by teaching students password security
Victoria Merinda, HighSpeedInternet.com
An important part of creating a positive experience online is to educate your kids about online password security. Having their social media accounts or phone fall into the wrong hands could potentially lead to inappropriate things being posted on their accounts, or their information being compromised.
It’s important for family members to sit down with their children and explain the importance of information they post online and how to keep their online accounts safe. One tip is to make sure you have a long password, which is a lot harder for hackers to figure out than a password that’s filled with numbers and symbols. Here is a pro tip from our report: You can choose stronger passwords like “goosegerbilcoffeeiphonepluto” instead of weaker ones like “Sc#[email protected]”. Why is the first option stronger? New guidelines show substituting numbers or other characters for letters doesn’t make passwords as hard to crack as increasing password length does.
Make sure your students or children are protected online. Though it may sound simple, creating a strong password and knowing the dangers of a hacked account are Internet basics that every child should know.
Once your student has spent some time online, it’s important for them to clean up their social media content regularly, especially if they’re going through the college admissions (or hiring) process. Social media mistakes can happen to anyone, no matter how prepared they may be, so learning how to clean up those mistakes is a vital part of having a positive digital footprint. When students follow the steps above, they ensure that their online reputation is a positive reflection of who they are.
We want to hear from you! Do you have any social media clean up tips that aren’t mentioned in the list above? Has your child been affected by a negative digital footprint? Let us know in the comments below how other students can avoid the impact of a detrimental online presence.