The Importance of Your Social Media Footprint
Tips about what you should (and shouldn’t) post online.
Have you ever met someone new, then looked up their profile on social media platforms to learn more about them? If so, you probably already understand the significance of an individual’s footprint, or public image, on social media.
What you do online – even if you’re just interacting with friends and family – tells the world a lot about you. What you share, how you comment on posts and articles, where you check in, who you tag in your photos… all of these things provide the public with clues about how you spend your time and how you carry yourself.
“Students often do not realize the reach of social media beyond their small circle,” says Stacy O’Mara, Director of Professional Development at Full Sail University. “It is powerful and speaks about you to all who tune in. It can be the voice that speaks long before you meet someone.”
If you’re thinking about college or are already applying to universities, you might want to consider how your social media image is speaking on your behalf.
What You Shouldn’t Post
“College applicants should avoid posting things that are marginalizing, alienating, overly explicit, or illegal,” says Stacy. This is solid advice for pretty much everyone, but high schoolers especially should remember that posting negative content – on their profile or elsewhere – could potentially have adverse affects on their plans for college or employment.
Keep in mind, too, that classmates and coworkers are also likely come across your social media profiles. Before posting something questionable, think about how you want to be perceived by your peers, especially ones you admire or hope to form friendships with.
What You Should Post
From a college admissions perspective, it’s always good to post references to charity work, industry work, and any accolades you’ve received.
You don’t need to go completely serious, though. Consider your best personality traits – even the ones that aren’t directly related to your desired career path – and let them shine. Are you known for your sense of humor? Have a love for animals? A knack for creativity and design? Making sure these talents are apparent on your social media profiles will prove to the rest of the world (including college admissions reps) that you’re a dynamic individual with your own drive and passions.
Thinking Before You Post
It’s important to remember that everything you post online stays there forever – even if you post it privately or delete it later on. Anything from private Instagram stories to fun TikTok trends should be shared intentionally.
Many apps like Snapchat and Instagram allow you to send “disappearing” videos and messages. While this feature may offer the illusion of extra privacy and security, those photos and messages are never truly erased from the internet.
Controversial or inappropriate social media posts or leaked messages could end up having adverse effects on your college admissions process, social life, or career.
Here’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind: If you wouldn’t want the whole world to see it, you probably shouldn’t post or send it at all.