Social media allows us to keep in contact with friends and family, share information with them and promote content. It also creates a platform to build relationships with people you do not know in physical realms. For example, in recent times LinkedIn is one of the most useful tools in building professional relationships.

The image you portray on social media sites should be thought about carefully. Sites such as Facebook allow you to link yourself to the company you work for. You are therefore choosing to represent that brand. We discuss how to maintain professionalism online:

1. Check your Privacy

Firstly, check that all of your personal profiles remain on private settings. On sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, ensure your page does not divulge too much information.

Allowing posts to be public invites others to see them – this includes prospect employers or business partners. One reported case of social media blunder involved a girl called Cella commenting on how she was starting a job the following day – and she made clear her negative feelings towards it. The store’s manager was quick to reply to these comments and subsequently fired her before she even started.

If you believe that you can uphold a professional appearance in all posts and photos then you may not think this necessary. However, be cautious of the friends that you are connected with as they may tag statuses or photos involving you. To control these postings, ensure that you change your privacy settings to seek your approval of anything you are tagged in.

2. Separate Profiles

If you own your own business and need social media as a marketing tool, it may be worth setting-up two separate pages. By doing this it allows you to post information that relates directly to the business and will avoid over-sharing with business contacts. If this is not possible, keep posts neutral and rant-free. For example, it was well documented when Labour front-bencher Emily Thornberry was sacked by Ed Miliband after appearing to mock working-class voters.

3. Do Not Talk About Work

Even if your social media pages remain private it is a good idea to refrain from posting about work. You will most likely be connected with people from work on your account therefore there is a high possibility that they will see such posts. The BBC were reported to have sacked two employees for criticising their boss online. Keep to the general rule of, “If you wouldn’t say it to them directly, don’t say it on social media.”

Overall, it is important to think when posting on social media. Stay private, neutral and do not say anything you would not say in person. If used properly, social media it is a great way to connect with friends, family and business contacts. It can be used as a tool to shorten distances and share content.