Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and the like have been used for people to share funny, ridiculous, and infuriating memes for at least a decade or two. Other social networking sites have sprouted up that are geared more towards professionals exchanging ideas and connections related to their particular field. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, please heed this advice: conduct yourself professionally in all of your social networking websites.
It is perfectly acceptable to have a personal Facebook page that caters to your friends where you can post opinionated, offensive, and ranting statements. Just make sure that these posts are not available to the public. Adjust your settings so that professionals viewing your page will take you as a serious professional. I have a private personal Facebook page. I also have a professional Fanpage. My Fanpage is open to the public and is reflective of the type of professional I wish to reveal myself to be. My personal page is available only to my friends. I do not “friend” professional connections on this page. What I post here is not meant as a professional representation.
I have a LinkedIn profile that I post only articles related to my profession. It is perfectly acceptable to relay your personality through your professional page, just make sure you maintain a professional presence. Just as you wouldn’t show up to a job interview holding a beer in one hand and Playboy magazine in the other, don’t post pictures of yourself at a party, half-dressed, doing a keg-stand to the general public. Keep those hidden on your personal page, visible only to your friends, not your professional contacts.
Everything you post online, on social networking websites, by default, are visible to everyone. For the sake of being taken seriously and professionally (teenagers, you will one day be looking for a job. Don’t let your future employee have access to incriminating or embarrassing posts), keep your ‘social’ posts private on your ‘social’ networking sites. And for the love of all things holy, please present yourself with a modicum of professionalism when contacting other professionals on a professional social network. Don’t send an email to someone you’ve never met that uses slang or language that you use when talking to your buddy, especially if you are looking to make a professional connection. Don’t start off an email to a potential client, employer, or partner with, “Hey shawty…” And while I’m thinking about it, don’t use email names like “CutePrincess@ymail.com” or “BigBlackStud69@hotmail.com” when sending emails to prospective employers or clients. Seriously! Use some common sense!
The bottom line here is, if you want to be taken seriously as a professional, make sure that your are representing yourself professional in all that you do in public. What you post publicly is your brand. This is how the general public will see you. How do you want to be seen? Keep your inappropriate posts (things you wouldn’t want your grandma to see) private. As a general rule, if you wouldn’t want the world to know, don’t post it to social media. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, present yourself as a professional in every aspect of your public social network.