Dangers of Social Media on Your Personal Brand

Social media is a powerful tool to market yourself and to create your own personal brand. While it can be difficult to maintain, having an active positive social network can offer many benefits. Many average people have become so popular on social media, that they get paid or are given free stuff just to post on their page. Others have better luck using it to network through sites like Linkedin to land their dream job. For a celebrity, presence on social media is important to promote events or reach out to fans. While users can use social media to create favorable outcomes for themselves, one slip up can ruin everything.

I’m sure nearly everyone reading this has had one person in their life tell them to be careful what they post online. If you haven’t, I’m here to tell you. Be careful what you post online. Sometimes a harmful post can lead to small consequences that can be easily fixed with hitting the delete button and waiting for time to past. But other mistakes, can damage your career and personal brand.

In recent news, Azealia Banks, a 25 year old rapper from New York City, got herself into quite the controversy over racist and homophobic tweets. The tweets were directed at Zayn Malik, former member of One Direction. It started with Banks accusing Zayn of copying one of her music videos. The inappropriate rant caused Bank’s twitter account to be suspended, taking a hit to her public relations and self-promotion. But it didn’t stop there. Born and Bred Festival dropped Azealia Banks as a headliner for their festival happening in June. A moment of anger cost her an important gig. Even bigger than that, it damaged her name. I’ve never listened to any of Azealia Banks’s music before. Now, I probably never will. I am sure there are many others who won’t either.

azealia banks.JPG

Another example of posting gone wrong was in 2013 by Alicia Ann Lynch. As a Halloween costume, Lynch dressed up as a Boston Marathon bombing victim. She posted these photos on twitter and Instagram. The internet responded by sending death threats to her family and circulating nude images that she allegedly appeared in. Lynch lost her job over this situation. More on the story from Huffington Post. If Alicia Ann Lynch did not post the photo on the internet, she may have been fine and would only receive reactions from people in the room with her. However, by posting it online, instead of a room of criticism, she exposed herself to the whole internet. And let’s be honest, the internet can be an unreasonably cruel place. Not only did her image get damaged due to bad judgment, now nude photos are linked to her online persona. Because of this posting, Lynch lost her job and a google search of her name leads to countless negative articles about her.

There are many more examples out there of social media postings gone wrong. I’m sure everyone can recall seeing a post that they would deem questionable. Maybe it was themselves who made it. I know I have posts that I regret putting up and have been deleted since. It is important to know that nobody is perfect. But there are ways to avoid damaging your career or personal brand through social media.

  1. Don’t use social media.
    Probably the safest option. However, you are limiting yourself from all the positives that social media offers.
  2. Wait.
    If you re angry, don’t use social media as a way to vent. Find a friend to vent to first. Then wait a day or two to decide if you really want to release your anger online.
  3. If it’s questionable, don’t post it.
    While you may find it funny or freeing, don’t expect everyone to look at it that way. Your Halloween costume or nudes may not be viewed the same way by a recruiter, your boss or admission counselor.
  4. Think of how you want to create your digital footprint.
    Do you want to be seen online as a smart funny guy or the guy who gets too drunk and ends up half naked on the bathroom floor? If you are the second guy, keep that lifestyle for your circle of friends, not online.

None of this information is probably new to you. It is common sense. Don’t do anything that can cause damage to yourself. One small moment of misjudgment can have adverse consequences on your life. However, it seems that people need a constant reminder. As I read through my social networks, I see friends and old high school classmates posting images of them participating in illegal activities. I’m all for personal freedom, but maybe keep it away from the internet. Hopefully this blog post will successfully serve as a reminder to keep out of trouble until the next time someone tells you “be careful what you post.”


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