How To Survive a Social Media Background Check

By on July 21, 2011

Did you know that at any time, someone can run a social media background check on you or your business? Usually this is not much of a problem – but what happens if it’s a potential client, business partner or fan that does it? Those drunk pictures from new years eve are bound to come back and haunt you.

The trouble is, that businesses are offering these social media background checks to anyone that wants one – and they’re thorough. A lot can be discovered from the things you tweet, post and say across several social networks. Images, video, audio –well, they just complete the profile search.

Here’s how to survive the onslaught!

Maintain Your Social Profile

The first thing a client, business or fan does is check your name in Google. Obviously, it’s a good idea to know what is being indexed under your name – whether it’s you or not. Even if you are 100% blameless, there might be a miscreant with the same name out there, fogging up your Google profile.

An easy way to remedy this, is to create some nice, friendly comments, posts and conversations with your name in them. Google will eventually pick up on the keyword, and hopefully there will be enough traffic on those sites – that the bad results in the rankings will soon disappear.

Be Censored Most of The Time

You can never tell what Google is going to site as important, and display to anyone willing to look – so it’s best to be fairly censored when interacting online. Aside from your Facebook account, Google has no trouble indexing tweets, forum posts, blog comments and social conversations for the world to see.

Be very careful about what you choose to say online. Once it’s in the cloud, it can’t be recalled. If you’re going to be graphic or uncensored, it’s best to do it far away from your real name. Monitor your friend’s accounts for unprofessional photos of yourself. If they are going to be displayed, then make sure your friend has the right privacy settings on their page. The same goes for any other media that surfaces about you.

Advanced Censoring

Sometimes the most innocent posts can lose you a client or business partnership. Never badmouth anyone online, especially past clients, employers and employees. You should also be aware of the times you log on to certain social sites. If you’re not a social media company, excessive use can paint you in a bad light.

Steer clear of touchy subjects (unless you’re in that niche) like religion, politics or radical philosophy. Your online reputation is more important than your reputation in the real world. A great tip is to optimize your LinkedIn profile – it will automatically show up high in the search results on Google.

Be sure to check up on your business name as often as you can as well. If you don’t have a social media or SEO strategy in place – your name could end up getting a lot of bad press for no reason one day. It’s best to see it coming so that you can prepare, and take evasive action!

Have you ever been the subject of a social media background debacle? We want to hear from you! Leave your comment below!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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