Most of us can’t wait to share our daily adventures with the world on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We upload photos, and we share status updates about where we are and what we are doing — all at the click of a button.


But are you aware that by actively sharing your updates via these sites, you are providing your current and future employers, virtual strangers, and even law enforcement bodies with your personal information?


Ensure that your online reputation stays intact and that it doesn’t negatively affect your professional and personal life by following these social media etiquette tips:


1) Think twice before you post anything online

The moment you publish something online, the chances of being able to take it back are close to zero. Always re-read your status or photo caption before you post it on any social media site. If you wouldn’t want to say it to someone’s face, or if you wouldn’t want certain people to find out about it, it’s probably better if you do not post it at all.


2) Ask before you tag people in status updates or photos

When tagging people on social media, always keep in mind that they might be a bit more private on social media than you are. The polite thing to do would be to ask someone before you tag them in a social media post. You should also activate settings that give you the option to approve a tag before it shows on a post or photo that you are being tagged in. This will help you monitor and control your online presence.


3) Check your spelling

It might sound totally unnecessary, but it won’t hurt to run a quick spellcheck on whatever you want to post online. Texting someone in private in your own code language might be acceptable, but when it comes to social platforms, rather stick to using proper grammar. If you apply for a job, and your prospective employer looks you up on social media, it could hurt your chances of success if your profile is full of grammar and spelling mistakes.  


4) Be careful of getting caught in “twars” and being “dragged”

Every now and then we see high-profile figures and celebrities getting into Twitter wars (twars) and being called out (dragged) for saying the wrong things. This can be entertaining to watch, but be careful of getting yourself caught in the middle of a “twar” or being “dragged” for saying the wrong thing.

It may seem harmless from behind the screen, but the consequences can be detrimental to your reputation.  You don’t want to alienate yourself or others, or earn a reputation for being a hothead. Remember, your opinion can be misinterpreted and you won’t be able to take it back – and this could easily affect your career and your personal life.


5) Check your privacy settings

Whatever you do, do not post your private contact details all over public pages when requesting to be contacted. Rather send private inbox messages. At the same time, check your privacy settings for each social media site that you use, as these settings differ from platform to platform.

Read more about protecting your privacy online


Note: This article was originally published on 8 April 2015, and has been updated for completeness and accuracy. Updated by: Lungiswa Nyatyowa