The other day, I started looking back at some of my old social media posts, and I cringed. My social media feed used to be filled with emotional posts about ex-boyfriends, lengthy complaints about homework, or other inappropriate content.
I realized that employers, family members, coaches, or anyone with any importance in my life could see what I put on social media, and I had to be more careful. While most people keep their Facebook and Instagram accounts private, Twitter tends to be a more public platform where we can share our voice with the world. With that comes some unique challenges that could compromise how others see you as a professional. Here are some tips on how to clean up your account and put your best self forward – in 140 characters or less.
1. Change your mindset
If you really want to change your Twitter feed, you first have to accept what you’re using it for. While you may be using Twitter to share your opinions and rants with the world, it’s also a prime place to network and promote yourself. If you’re planning on ranting, just protect your tweets! But if you’re looking to promote yourself using Twitter, then you have to remember that every tweet reflects who you are to the world. If you’re building a personal brand and professional style, make sure your tweets are on message.
2. Do a “spring cleaning” of your Twitter
Look back on the past few years of tweets, and delete anything you think is immature, like hostile arguments or inappropriate pictures. The first and easiest step is to make your profile picture a professional-looking photo. From there, scan your tweets and ask yourself some questions: What might a stranger reading this think of me? How might this look to a future boss? How would someone I respect react to this? If you’re unsure of a tweet, delete. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
3. Pick a tone or theme
Do you want to come across as witty? Do you want to be considered someone who informs? Pick a theme or tone and stick to it. Do you want your Twitter to be dedicated to stories and pictures of traveling? Maybe you want to focus on food? Whatever you want to pursue, you can dedicate your social media to that. By creating your own personal brand, you can showcase your value to the world. Think about what makes you unique and build your Twitter profile around that. How do you want people to describe you? The first things people look at when they view your Twitter are your profile picture, header photo, and blurb. Make sure these are updated and consistent with your personal brand.
4. Share articles in an intentional way
If you’re pursuing a career in economics, you might think that an employer doesn’t care what your social media looks like. Regardless of your field, your Twitter account is in a position to help, or harm you when it comes to future work. You could use social media to show how much you know about economics by posting articles from a variety of reliable and respected sources like “The New York Times,” “The Economist,” or “The Washington Post.” But don’t just post the articles. Make sure to share your thoughts and opinions alongside them. The same could be done for any topic: music, the environment, politics… the list just goes on.
Everyone will tell you how important networking is, and it’s true! Twitter is a great place to reach out to people you respect or admire. Follow people and organizations you admire and engage with their accounts. If your dream job is to work at Disney, make sure to follow people in the company. Don’t be afraid to retweet or to tweet at someone. It’s a great way to get a conversation started. For example, if the CEO of a company you want to work for tweets out an opinion about something, respond to it with your own opinion. Or if someone you respect wrote an article, tweet at them a link to the article with your comments.
Originally published on May 9, 2017.