10 ways to protect your personal brand on social media

By Kathryn Percy, Senior Communications Manager, TELUS Social and Media Relations Team

The social media landscape has changed dramatically over the past ten years. Did you know that it’s been almost 12 years since Facebook first launched? What social media was then is not what it is today.

When I was going to University, Facebook was just starting to gain momentum and Twitter was still simply an idea – neither were household names like they are today. As a student, I wasn’t exposed to or interested in the good, bad and ugly of social media. But, as time went on, the merits of Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels got the best of me and I signed up for these online communities. I was so excited to use Facebook and reconnect with friends from around the world to see what they had been up to since our last encounter. I even remember sending my first tweet while boarding a flight with friends. All I wanted to do was gain more followers. From there, my fondness for social networking grew and grew. So much so, that in 2011, I accepted a role at TELUS as a Senior Communications Manager, specializing in social media.

As with all digital platforms, things change over time. Social media is not any different. From my experience in this fast-paced field, I know that today, more than ever, it’s important to be aware of your personal brand online and keep it protected. Your online brand will follow you forever and is easily searchable by others.

I’d love to share a few tips with you that I’ve picked up along the way on how to protect your personal brand online:

  1. Manage your privacy settings on all your social media channels: Privacy settings change often, especially with Facebook, so it’s important to stay updated on setting updates and ensure you’re fully protected. I find it valuable to go into my profiles every few months to make sure my setting make me as private as I’m comfortable with.
  2. Update your passwords regularly: We’ve all seen the spam tweets on our Twitter feed – let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you by changing your passwords regularly. I update mine every three months.
  3. Future employers will search you on the ‘Net: What they say is true, everyone Googles potential candidates – I do. Make sure future employers see the best side of you. If you don’t want your parents to see a picture, you wouldn’t want your employers to either.
  4. Take great care in protecting your personal information: I make it a rule to exclude my phone number and address on all my profiles. I also never post on any of my social channels that I’m heading on vacation. Instead, I will post photos after I return from a trip. I couldn’t imagine coming home from an amazing vacation to find my house was broken into as a result of sharing this information.
  5. Accepting friend requests: Don’t accept every friend request. Make sure you know the person and are comfortable with them going through your Facebook feed. We all know that the first thing you do is check out your friend’s photos, make sure you know these individuals.
  6. Think before you post: My biggest piece of advice is to always ask yourself “would Mom be proud?” If the answer is no, maybe you should think twice before posting the picture or comment. After all, the Internet is forever.
  7. Google yourself: On a regular basis, it’s a great practice to Google yourself. If you Googled me right now you’ll find my LinkedIn profile, a Vancouver Sun article and our TELUS Blog – all of which I’m comfortable with people reading.
  8. Facebook Activity Log: When I first started using Facebook, I was tagged in all of my friend’s photos, but as the years progressed, I realized I wanted more control over what I’m tagged in. Now I make it a rule that I approve all comments and photos that I’m tagged in before they show up on my feed. You can update this setting within your Activity Log, under Timeline Review.
  9. More is not always better: As with most people, when I first joined Facebook I tried to gain as many ‘friends’ as possible. I thought that was the whole point. Now, a few years later, I realized that’s not true at all. I ‘unfriend’ individuals that I don’t have regular contact with. I want my feed to be filled with great friends, not acquaintances.
  10. Take advantage of professional channels: LinkedIn is one of my favourite social media channels. If you choose to use the platform, make sure your photo is professional and your work experience is up to date – you never know who may be checking out your profile for a potential job opportunity.