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The social media what-not-to-do list

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On the heels of my How I Do It posts for Twitter and Personal Branding, I thought it might be helpful to point out that while you’re on the Internet—Twitter, Facebook, blog message boards, wherever—you’re interacting with real people. The people who know you, know you, but the people you meet on the Web, who you may want to become valuable contacts, are using your online presence to paint a picture of you. So if you wantonly fire off Tweets without caring about spelling or punctuation, that copy editing gig you’ve been jockeying for may not be such a lock.

Here are some of the more common things I see that probably aren’t becoming of a professional Web presence:

  • type lk a 14yos txt msg. If you’re that carefree about your own Web presence, what makes me think you’re going to be any more meticulous with my company’s brand? Sure, we all bend this rule a bit with Twitter, but for the most part, if you can’t fit it into 140 characters, it doesn’t belong there.
  • Curse a f***ing lot. Hey, we all casually swear from time to time (even online), but if you’re dropping eff bombs left and right, you’re projecting an image that only a handful of employers would put up with. On the other hand, if that’s the way you want to filter your job search, curse on. (In case it needs to be said: The same logic applies to crude jokes, photos and anything else NSFW.)
  • Post comments that are hundreds and/or thousands of words long. At a certain point, comments get too long and need to become blog posts (i.e. drop a short comment and link out). If you don’t know where that point is, figure out your own limit for reading other people’s long comments and stick to that.
  • TYPE IN ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME BECAUSE IT’S EASIER THIS WAY. You’re yelling at me. Please stop.
  • Tell me to Click here! and “check this out:”. If I see text that’s colored and underlined, I know it’s a link. If you Tweet something and leave a link after it, I know you want me to click on it. Telling me where to click and what to “check out” is like putting instructions on a hammer (“Bash nails with me!”).
  • Reveal too much about yourself/make it look like you’re revealing too much about yourself. Drunk dialing rules apply just as stringently to social media, if not more so. You are, after all, broadcasting your message to the entire world. (Just ask Giants pitcher Brian Wilson.) It’s equally important to pay attention to the context of seemingly innocuous posts/comments/etc. Maybe you Facebooked a completely innocent photo of your day at the zoo…except you called in sick that day. Have fun with your many subsequent “days at the zoo.”

Feel free to drop your own what-not-to-dos in the comment field.

Addendum: For more on what not to do, take note of everything Cheifs running back Larry Johnson said yesterday.

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