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Clean up on aisle 5: Tips for improving your online reputation management!


You may have heard “clean up on aisle 5”? It’s a common announcement in grocery stores when there is a spill or a mess that needs to be taken care of. But what if the mess is not on the floor but on your social media profile? We aren’t talking about the kid spilling cereal on the floor, but the shelf of tomato sauce crashing to the floor. It is a real mess. When was your last social media cleanup?

We are all guilty of sharing things on social media in the heat of the moment. From politics and social issues to personal dramas, we can post things we later regret.  If you’ve shared anything inappropriate, offensive, or embarrassing, it’s wise to address it before it negatively affects your reputation, relationships, or career. Recruiters or potential clients can dismiss you immediately, never bothering to review your qualifications if what you have posted seems offensive. Trolls can attack you and further muddy your profile with additional negative posts.

Here are some tips on how to clean up your social media presence:

  • Delete or hide any posts that are negative, rude, or controversial. Ask yourself if you want to be associated with anything that could hurt someone’s feelings, spark an argument, or cause trouble.
  • Review your privacy settings and make sure you are comfortable with who can see your posts, comments, likes, and tags. You might want to limit your audience to your close friends and family or create custom lists for different types of posts.
  • Be mindful of what you share and how you say it. Think twice before you post something that could be misunderstood, misinterpreted, or taken out of context. Use a polite and respectful tone and avoid using profanity, slang, or abbreviations that could confuse or offend someone.
  • Apologize if you have made a mistake or hurt someone’s feelings. If you have posted something that was wrong, insensitive, or inappropriate, admit it and say you are sorry. Don’t try to justify, defend, or delete your post, as that could make things worse. Be sincere and humble and try to make amends.

What about freedom of speech? You can say whatever you want, but you aren’t free of the consequences of that speech. If being a provocateur is your brand or a calling, then own it. Be smart. Check your facts. Don’t share disinformation. Don’t engage in name-calling. You decide your personal branding and professional online presence.

Remember, your social media profile reflects who you are and what you stand for. It can also affect how others perceive you and interact with you. So don’t let a spill or a mess ruin your image or reputation. Clean up aisle 5 and keep your social media presence neat and tidy.

Photo Credit: Sandra Lee Schubert

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