October 21, 2014

What Does Your Facebook Profile Reveal About You?

Gen Y Facebook InfographicIf you’re like most people, you use your Facebook profile to connect with friends and family. But you may also connect with coworkers or business contacts, like I do. Are you conscious of what you’re posting on Facebook, given the mixed audience? Your profile might be telling more about you than you realize.

In a study released by Millennial Branding and Identified.com, more than 50 million Facebook data points were studied, and what this data revealed might surprise you. While the study focused on Generation Y’s use of Facebook, I think it speaks to what many of us are doing on the social site as well.

Every field you fill out on your Facebook profile reveals something about yourself. Where you work, your job title, how long you held past positions…all is fair game for a potential employer or client who is searching you on the Internet.

Millennial Branding’s study shows that, for Gen Y at least, the average time worked at a job is just over two years. While shorter job stints are a characteristic of Gen Y, it’s not something likely to impress a potential employer.

Tread Lightly With the Overshares

In addition to the professional information you’re sharing (or not sharing: 64% of those studied didn’t even list their current employer on their Facebook profiles), personal updates can also create a wedge between you and your professional life. The average person on Facebook has about 16 co-worker “friends” on their profiles, yet often still share personal details of their lives.

But what about that rant about your boss that a co-worker sees and tells her about? Or the update on you playing hooky from work? No matter what you’re sharing, it’s important to remember your audience.  With the employment situation being what it is, there’s no sense in putting yourself in a precarious position by sharing the wrong sentiment on your Facebook page and putting your job in jeopardy. There are examples of people being fired over what they posted on Facebook, and companies are paying more attention to social media updates.

Walking the Line

It’s true, we’re becoming a sharing society. And while it’s fine to share details of your life with business contacts, be aware of their potential impact. Focus on comments that won’t put your career at risk. My tip? Only post things you wouldn’t be ashamed of your mother reading. It’s fine to let co-workers and business contacts see the personal side of your life, but share with filters. Or use Facebook’s feature that lets you target who sees an update.

Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, offers these tips when sharing on Facebook:

  • Don’t reveal anything on Facebook that you don’t want to be the topic of office gossip the next morning.
  • Turn on your privacy settings and put your co-workers into a separate group that you can only send certain information to.
  • Have set rules ahead of time as to who you add and who you don’t.
  • Be mindful of your status updates and think twice before you post.
  • Clean up your online image and make it a bit more professional.

Read the full Gen Y and Facebook study and tell us, do you share details of your personal life with business contacts? Do you ever share too much?

8 Comments ▼

Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

8 Reactions

  1. The only things I post on Facebook are things I wouldn’t mind saying (or showing) to a large group of people standing in front of me.
    I know a workplace where a woman went on stress leave for health reasons. A few days later, all of her co-worker Facebook friends found mobile photos of her partying at different clubs in their news feeds.

  2. Great article. Didn’t know the average Facebook user had 16 co-worker friends… that’s pretty interesting!

  3. Susan: Great advice. I will look into the Facebook study. Personally, as an individual interested in philosophy, I post both personal and business related stuff on my Facebook page. I am an integrated person and that is reflecting on my personal brand. My mother is not on Facebook, but I know that she wouldn’t be ashamed of me, if she would be reading my status updates! :)

    I have used Dan Schawbel’s book Me 2.0 in my courses on social media and I have pointed out that shouldn’t be afraid of “finding, creating and protecting” your personal brand online (e.g. on Facebook), but you should think twice before you hit the enter on the computer keyboard! ;)

  4. @Rita–
    That’s another way to look at it: would you say it to a crowd in front of you?

    @Mike–
    Makes you want to count yours up, eh?

    @Martin–
    I do both too, but find myself filtering at times.

    Susan

  5. I founf the articule very interesting. I did not know very much about Gen-Y. Thank’s for the info.

  6. Well-said. Facebook is a common ground for gossip and we should not let ourselves become victims of silly mistakes. At the end of the day, we would have no one to blame but ourselves. Hence, think before you post. Thank you for sharing!

  7. @Barnet–
    Sure thing!

    @Jennifer–
    I guess Facebook has replaced the water cooler for gossip, eh?

    Susan

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