Social Media Mistakes You Might Be Making … and Not Even Know It!

It’s safe to say that the goal after we graduate is to land a job within our field of study. If that’s the case, it’s time to set yourself up for success.

Chances are you know the basics: “Don’t post this, don’t post that,” Sometimes though, we forget just how visible our digital platforms are to others and that little things can change the way others view who we are.

NAU Public Relations professor, Dr. Zhan Xu, shares tips Lumberjacks can use on how to make sure that your social media projects the best image of yourself.

#1. Market yourself as a brand.

Brand: The combination of name, words, symbols or design that identifies the product and its source and distinguishes it from competing products.

Creating a brand for yourself would be creating an identity that you would like for others to see as you. This identity is important to design whether you are intending for your friends to see or someday, a future employer. People regularly like to share their travel photos, pictures of family, work milestones, and more. These all capture an individual’s values. The great thing about social media is that you can create an appearance that defines you as you.

Take a look at the photo shared below:

There are two examples of possible captions for the post. The photo itself is not going to change, but the captions would alter another’s perspective of the user.

For starters, the first caption shares that the user views themselves with such high value that it breaks from being confident to being arrogant. The emojis themselves help create a different image. In the discouraged caption, the emojis re-frame the message to be an innuendo, a combination that lends itself to an overall inappropriate post.

The other caption is similar but it is instead a play on words from the Goldfish slogan. The emojis are effective in communicating this — the fish is strategically used for viewers to connect the reference. The point is the combination of words, emojis, and hashtags can be used to effectively represent yourself online.

Food for thought: In this photo, the user is wearing a work polo and name-tag. How would this photo, if captioned inappropriately, negatively represent the student’s employer and university overall?

#2. Your likes are your endorsements.

Think twice before you heart, retweet, or thumbs up that post. In the past, it wasn’t so easy to see what somebody has liked. Now, it takes just a couple clicks to view your past activity.

When scrolling through Twitter, there are several posts that show up because friends/followers liked them (and usually these are not posts you planned to see). The picture below shows different ways that platforms share what you like — keep in mind the content that you are giving a like to — as well as who is behind the account.

An example of just how simple a mistake this can be happened just recently when pop artist Shawn Mendes accidentally liked a transphobic tweet. His fans caught the tweet and began responding negatively until he had apologized and shared it was a mistaken like.

Obviously, we aren’t celebrities who are always in the spotlight, but what we like represents ourselves and we need to be mindful of what we attach our names to at any time.

#3. Avoid the obvious.

Depending on the institution, there is a chance that the employer goes through their candidates’ social media accounts. This article from Workopolis shares great points about what employers are and aren’t looking for in social media profiles.

Statistics pulled from

Above are a few of the recommendations to avoid giving a presence on your platforms. These are just the most common offenders that happen in captions under a user’s posts, but ultimately the way your profile is viewed can vary from individual to individual.

#4. Spelchuck, Spell chek, Spell-check!

Understand that there’s a difference between misspelling a caption for effectiveness and having poor writing skills. Avoid spelling mistakes, profanity, and inappropriate references when writing anything online, from LinkedIn posts to tweets. Luckily most phones have a spell-check feature built in to help avoid careless errors that can be misinterpreted as intentional posts.

An example of an intentional use of misspelling to create a pun.

#LumberjackTip: If you notice a spelling error on a post that you just clicked “share” on. Most apps/platforms allow you to edit after-the-fact. Use those tools and fix it before it’s too late!

#5. When in doubt, clean it out.

If you’re at all worried about the pictures on your account, clean it up. A good rule to use is “would my grandma approve of this?” — if the answer is no, chances are your future employer most likely won’t approve either. Use a weekend afternoon to clean up your profile: avoid pictures that showcase alcohol, potentially illegal activities and anything that you feel uneasy about.

These are a few tips to keep in mind to improve your social media appearance. Don’t break away from who you are to create a false identity, be smart and mostly — be authentic and #KickAxe!




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