The Top 5 Personal Brand Fails To Avoid In A World Of Cyber-Everything

Presentations are everything in life, and in a sense, we are always marketing ourselves to the public with our voices and actions. These components work together to create a brand image for each person as an individual. James Twitchell claims that a brand “is the application of a story to a product or service,” so it is important to realize what stories your life is telling and what images you are portraying. Many people tend to forget that online communication can be extremely harmful to a personal brand, and often diminish their brand images with common mistakes. The top 5 personal brand fails to avoid have been listed to help strengthen and build who you are as a brand.

# 1 – Oversharing

Although the tailgating and partying of your undergraduate days may be over for the most part, many forget that the pictures and posts that documented all those nights have not. Not only do people look at all of the bits of information people say and share, but posts remain in cyber space long after they are forgotten, and are easily and readily available for anyone and everyone to see.

Susan Adams wrote an article on managing online reputation, one of her key points was this: “Keep private things private, while assuming nothing is truly private.”

Everything about you on the Internet comes together to form a picture of your personality, even if you feel this picture may not be true to who you are. Think treating the Internet as a diary doesn’t matter? Oversharing has been linked to: self-incrimination, break-ins, loss of employment, and failed relationships.

Having trouble entering the workforce? You may need to examine what’s on your social media sites. Employers routinely search applicants to see what type of information, pictures, and statuses pop up. Besides not being able to land you a job, oversharing can also get you fired from one. shared how an employee took the day off from work, telling his boss he had a funeral, however, later that day the employee posted pictures of himself at a party. His boss found out, and naturally he got fired.

Every time you go to post something whether it be as a status, tweet, wall post, share, picture, whatever- think to yourself, “Is this TMI? Would I want my employer to see this? Would I be proud of this years from now?”

# 2 – Underestimating Technology

We’ve all heard of Snapchat , the application that allows you and your friends to take ridiculous photos that once viewed, are immediately deleted… until recently. Not only can people screenshot your snap, but a counter-application called Snaphack has brought into question whether or not the photos you are sending are truly being deleted. Snaphack allows users to save screenshots of snapchats. Once saved, these photos can be uploaded to social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter. One of Snapchat’s original uses was for sending racy photos, and Snaphack could easily lead to some very personal pictures being published for all to see.

Snapchat is just one of the many applications that at face value seems harmless and fun, but could easily affect employment opportunities. Being aware and responsible for everything you send via any technology medium is essential to keeping your personal image a good one. So next time you think it might be funny to send a Snapchat of you and your friends doing something questionable, make sure you would be okay with seeing it on the Internet the next day. What you might think is funny during the time, won’t be funny if it is found on your employer’s desk the next morning.

# 3 – Not Staying Up-to-Date With the Latest Social Media Sites and Apps

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, LinkedIn, -the list is constantly growing and evolving when it comes to social media sites and apps available for public use. One of the biggest PR fails that people tend to overlook is not taking advantage of these social media techniques as a way to catch employer’s eyes, and to network.

Understanding and taking advantage of social media sites is essential in a world that is each day growing more reliant on technology. Where in the past employers only had a resume and a portfolio to judge a candidate for a job position, now the possibilities for judgment are endless. So why not take advantage of it? Take for example LinkedIn, a social media site that caters specifically to people to network professionally and allows users to connect with one another and build and maintain a broader network of professionals you can trust. It is a smart way of getting your personal name and brand out there for employers to see.

The website is helping people get jobs, so make a great move for yourself and join if you haven’t already!

# 4 -Talking Badly About Your Boss… Or Anyone For That Matter

In order for anyone to be happy with his or her job there must be a positive work environment. Most of us have had that one job we hated because of co-workers, company standards, the work itself, or the boss. In these sort of situations, trash talking seem to come with the business. So, for future and recent graduates we want to warn you, one of the biggest fails you can make in your career is talking trash about your boss, company, or coworkers online.

Recently, this video, featuring Marina Shifrin quitting her job, went viral on YouTube. You have probably seen it, but please feel free to watch it again and laugh.

Funny right? Except for the fact that her past boss knows how she really feels about him and her future employers will undoubtedly see her as unprofessional. So, as a rule of thumb, always save your rantings and trash talkings for your parents and close friends because if you share your personal (and most likely unprofessional) opinions and the wrong person sees it , you can kiss recommendations good-bye, as well as turn your personal brand image into that of a spiteful person.

(Also, take a look at her ex-boss’s response.) 

# 5 – Poor Grammar

Poor grammar can affect your brand and your career. Anna Underhill, a consultant for a HR firm, said poor spelling and grammar has become a serious issue for employers. Writing is the main way communication takes place via employers and employees and clients. Having poor correspondence in writing undermines the professionalism of yourself as well as your company.

Communication skills are consistently rated in the top 10 things employers look for. Knowing the difference between affect/effect, their/there, its/it’s, should be common sense not consistent mistakes. While shorthand and abbreviations are the norm in social media, that type of writing should never be integrated into business composition.

 Erik Deckers asks for you to think of it this way: If you receive a cover letter from a perspective employee filled with errors, would you hire that person? What sort of message are you sending to potential business partners when your initial email is riddled with mistakes?

Make your personal brand an effective one that highlights all of your best qualities. Don’t be afraid to jump into the cyber world to “sound [your] barbaric yawp,” but be cognizant of the do’s and don’t when it comes to establishing and maintaining a great image.

Savannah Valade, Jade Lester, Caroline Robinson, Morgan Jones, Meghan Carey

15 thoughts on “The Top 5 Personal Brand Fails To Avoid In A World Of Cyber-Everything

  1. I had never heard of Snaphack! I’ve always been very careful about how I use social media in fear that things like this did exist!

  2. I love this posting, and as clever as Maria was to create her “I Quit” video, her boss still won in the end because he came back with humor and class. Yes, she may have been fed up with her job but seriously you are 20 something, single, and newly on the job market. You have to put forth a little effort and spend a few nights cramming in order to become incredibly successful. But hey, not everyone can be a millionaire and has the work ethic. I think she will do just fine in finding another job, perhaps in something better suited for her. Social media is a like a double edged sword though, you can cut through the competition if used correctly, however, if you abuse it you may also end up cutting yourself, so be careful.

  3. Really made me think about what employers look at when in the hiring process. It really is a “cyber world” and it is important to consider the consequences of representing yourself in the wrong way through personal branding.

  4. I agree with Dr. O, this post rocks! As an undergraduate student that will soon be searching for a job in my field, this post was extremely insightful. I had planned on deleting all of my social media prior to submitting resumes and applications to potential employers because I thought that it could only be detrimental. I never thought about using them in a positive way to network with future employers. I’m definitely glad I read this post because it has been a real eye-opener!

  5. This was a great post! It was both extremely interesting and entertaining. All of the tips are very insightful and are most certainly true. We went over some stuff similar to this in my COM 265 class. Though social media and the internet are both great tools for promoting a brand, there are definitely downfalls to all aspects of it, perhaps even more-so for those who are unable to keep up. I loved the humor aspect to this post as well — that video was hilarious, especially the reply.

  6. You had some really good tips about how to avoid getting burned by our internet history– I especially like the comment about correct grammar usage. Growing up with tweets and texting can lead to a lack of skill when it comes to communicating properly using more than 140 characters. I’d also agree with you that before posting anything anywhere online it’s important to consider how personal is too personal on social media– and is “private” really private? These are questions that new generations are the first to deal with from birth. Parents announce to Facebook everything their child does from their first birthday to middle school graduation, complete with pictures, and when they hit puberty they start to get social media accounts of their own. I’m interested to see how negotiating our cyber-identities will change in the next decade, when the 10 year old digital natives of today become the 20 year old entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

  7. This post was really informative. It was both entertaining and captured my interest from the beginning of my reading. The video was rather funny and the points made about how social media can be a good or bad thing depending upon how it is used were also very true. Social media is always present, especially in our current collegiate environment. We are surrounded by the social media realm and are constantly battling ourselves to not mess up our future by what we post. Overall this post was very insightful and full of good information with a twist of humor.

  8. I thought this post was very informative.i completely agree with the first point that was made about over sharing. Even if someones Facebook’s is private, people are still able to Google image a name and more likely than not something will pop up. I also know a lot of people who are trying to get a job try to avoid over sharing by deleting their social media accounts for that period of time. I think over sharing is definitely an occurring problem, there is no privacy. I really enjoyed watching the videos as well. I had never seen them before so it was interesting,especially having the boss make a video in rebuttal. This post was great, thanks for sharing!

  9. This is hands down one of the best posts I have read so far! Every day we hear professors telling us to be careful about our personal brand, and that every thing we put out there is out there FOREVER. But you took it to another level by looking at things that are not completely over the top, and can be mistaken by the typical student as a safe use. Not only can social media ruin the brand that you make for yourself by showing crazy pictures, or a drunk tweet, this also talks about how the use of poor grammar can jeopardize your credibility, how going into too much detail can actually be bad, and that you have to keep up with the technology to make sure that you are always protecting yourself.

  10. For a lot of these things, especially talking poorly of your boss, I’d be more afraid of never getting hired again than being fired. These things seem like common sense, but I see more and more people posting “inappropriate” material on social networks. I’m not one to judge, and have tried to get some of my less than appropriate pictures taken down. Also, I find staying up to date with social networks very difficult . I took like a year-long break from social media, and its all changed. So I have to work on number 3… and a bit on number 5.

  11. I think everyone in college should read this! So many people forget that everything they post on the Internet is captured forever. I try to be as professional as possible when using social networking because I know potential employers can see what I’ve posted.

  12. I decided to delete my facebook over two years ago and it has been the best and most freeing decision i have made in a long time. People get way too wrapped up in little, insignificant what they ate for breakfast or what someone thinks about Obama. I still have instagram to have a little social media fun but i think it can sometimes lead to unwanted and unintended drama! I don’t have to worry about my future boss finding out what i did on friday night or how hungover i was on monday morning! Nobody’s business but your own!!

  13. I think over-sharing is a huge point. The line in which we keep things private or make it public I feel is fairly extreme for many people. It seems we are pushed and pushed and pushed to always be updating the world on how we’re feeling, where we are, and what we’re doing. I just can’t imagine where it’s going to stop.

  14. People talking badly about their employer has been a reoccurring issue in my place of work. People as a whole always have the mindset that it will never happen to them. They think no one will ever catch them. My particular employer has told me they do search hashtags with our company on Twitter and Facebook to see what people are saying, and sometimes our own coworkers come up with negative comments. You ALWAYS have to assume big brother is watching.

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