Why it’s high time to conduct a personal social media audit

If you haven’t done so in a while, take a thorough scroll down memory lane to assess your past contributions to the internet—before your career goes up in smoke.

Ronaldo embarrassing tweet

We’ve all said or done things we bitterly regret.

Unfortunately, we live in an era marked by the ability to instantaneously upload our rashest, rawest, most questionable hot takes for all the world to see. Once you hit “publish,” it’s out there, and there it shall remain. Don’t for a second think that “deleting” is a foolproof remedy.

Perhaps you have a cache of old jokes or blog posts that have aged poorly. Maybe you uploaded photos from a bawdy night out way back in 2013—or perchance you spent your formative days on Twitter ranting about less-than-edifying subject matter. Either way, it’s wise to regularly perform personal social media content audits.

Here are three things to keep in mind as you consider this important topic.

1. Don’t post (or “like”) questionable material.

Obviously, the best way to prevent having historical misdeeds come back to bite you is to not post (or “like”) naughty things in the first place. Err on the side of silence. Be boring, if you must.

This is especially tough for funny folks, or for people who find themselves quite entertaining. If you’re a frustrated comedian at heart, try your material on a private text chain or among friends. Don’t just blast your gags out into the world—and certainly don’t do so if you’ve been drinking or taking ambien.

Even if your past content isn’t “offensive,” it could still be harmful for your image—or your job prospects. You don’t want to appear angry, immature, inarticulate, thoughtless, obnoxious or judgmental. You certainly don’t want to give off the vibe that you’re potentially unstable, unprofessional or unreliable.

Pro tip: It’s not just stuff you posted. Your “likes” are also quite visible for all the world to see. Just ask Ted Cruz or this fellow. You can ask LeBron James about the dangers of direct messages, too.

You might’ve heard the exhortation to “dance like no one’s watching,” but it’s wise to tweet as if all eyes are on you.

2. Book time in your calendar for personal audits.

Set a reminder (monthly, quarterly, twice a year, whatever) to go through all your accounts and review your activities on each platform. Enshrine this ritual as part of your regular work duties.

Update photos as needed. Fix typos. Prune ancillary or borderline content aggressively, and delete accounts that aren’t delivering any sort of personal ROI.

If you’re not sure where to start, Buffer offers helpful social media audit tips and even a free spreadsheet template.

However you go about it, just make sure you block off time to regularly sift through your previous contributions to the internet. Keep in mind that 70 percent of employers use social media to vet and screen (and weed out) candidates.

3. Learn from those who have been caught.

How many times have we seen stars get busted for something offensive, hateful or asinine they posted a long time ago? It happens to athletes, in particular, all the time. You don’t have to be in the public eye to get busted, however.

Remember Justine Sacco? How about all these folks who lost their jobs because of social media numbskullery? Remember the fallen, and let their shame motivate you to display better judgment online.

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