Dawn Penfold of Meetingjobs and I (Lesley Kyle) are delivering a presentation during PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2013 titled, “Me: The Brand.” The presentation will address the importance of personal branding along with tactics for establishing and improving one’s professional brand image. Oprah Winfrey, Tim Tebow and Jon Stewart all have their own strong personal brands: do you?
A section of the presentation will speak to preserving one’s brand when using social media. Hiring officials and recruiters now Google prospective candidates’ names as part of their standard procedure. The photos your college roommate posted to commemorate your upcoming reunion no longer seem so amusing in this new – and very real – context.
The Facebook photos you thought were private may, in fact, be public and may not reflect positively on your brand image. The Ellen DeGeneres Show even airs a segment where compromising photos from the audience’s Facebook pages appear on television – and in perpetuity on YouTube and the Internet – to the audience members’ dismay and embarrassment. These photos of seemingly harmless shenanigans can and will follow you – and may become a damaging hallmark of your personal brand.
Each time I see an unflattering photo published on Facebook, I cringe. Those that are posted as profile pictures are indeed the most horrifying. Facebook is a great way to share ideas and experiences, providing you take the necessary precautions to safeguard your reputation. I encourage you to take this opportunity to check your Facebook privacy settings now. Here’s how:
1) Login to Facebook and click on Privacy Settings (drop-down arrow to the right of Home).
2) “Public” really does mean public: those who Google your name can see everything if your privacy settings default to “Public.” “Friends” and “Custom” are far better choices for privacy settings. The “Custom” setting allows only specific Friends whom you select to see the published post.
3) After your last outing, which was rife with debauchery, did your “Friend” post with reckless abandon? Privacy settings can be adjusted after-the-fact. Remove your nametags as well.
Unsure if you’ve changed your settings properly? Google your name + Facebook and review the results. Unhappy with what you see? Contact the person who owns the post or photo and ask them to remove it. This is true of any other website where disparaging content resides: the host site, not Google, must remove it. Once the image has been removed from the original website (Facebook or otherwise), Google will automatically update its results and the offending image will drop from the results.