Being a work-from-home professional is something of a balancing act, particularly where social media is concerned. On the one hand, you are very much a Real Person, with interests and passions far beyond your professional life — and the temptation can strike, from time to time, to post personal photos, political articles, or particular viewpoints. At the same time, it is imperative to remember that your own online reputation, as an individual, is closely wrapped up in your professional image — and that making ill-advised social media posts can be your professional undoing!
Personal reputation management is a key concern for work-from-home professionals — and in many ways, online reputation management begins on social media sites. The question is, what can work-from-home professionals do to ensure that they are putting their best foot forward on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter?
What Not to Post
For starters, it is important to get out of the way the obligatory “what not to post on social media sites” list. These lists are a dime a dozen, found on online brand management blogs across the Internet, but they’re ubiquitous for a reason. Simply put, your potential clients, customers, and partners are going to scope you out on the Web and on social media sites — don’t you do the very same thing? — and what they find could make or break you. Make sure to stay away from potentially contentious posts about tumultuous topics such as politics and religion, and also make sure to untag yourself from any drunk, slovenly, or otherwise compromising photos that your Facebook friends have uploaded.
Social Networking as Help, Not Hindrance
Given the potential for online embarrassment, some work-from-home professionals may decide that maybe the best course of action is to get off of the social networks altogether, or perhaps to ratchet up the privacy settings so that only close friends can see posts and photos. This is not the worst idea in the world, but a better idea is to remember that social networks can be either a hindrance or a help — and that by posting smartly, you can effectively use them for personal brand management and online reputation management.
Here are some examples:
- Use your social media sites to show off how much you know about your vertical or industry — to brand yourself as a professional of expertise and authority. How can you do this? Simply share articles, blog entries, or comments on trends and news headlines shaping your niche. Offer useful content that catches the interest of your social media friends and followers, and that shows off the depth of your knowledge and the scope of your passion.
- Humanize yourself; social networks are all about helping us relate to one another better, so cultivate your relate-ability. This might mean posting family photos, or making comments about some of your hobbies or your personal travels.
- Finally, you can use social media sites to position yourself as someone responsible, someone of immense integrity. How? Showcase your philanthropic interests. Some specific ways to do this include “liking” pages associated with your favorite charities, or else posting photos of fundraising work you do for your child’s school or a related cause.
Social Media and the Work-from-Home Professional
The bottom line is that, for the work-for-home professional, social networks can be traps — but they can also be invaluable tools for online brand management. Whether your social media sites hurt or hinder you is ultimately a matter of how you choose to use them. Make sure you’re thinking critically about how your social media posts reflect on you — not just as an individual, but as a professional.
Mike Zammuto leads a team of experts providing personal reputation management services at Brand.com. Prior to joining Brand.com, he was the COO of ChaCha. Earlier in his career, he worked on .NET 3.0 at Microsoft.