Well folks, spring is officially here! We made it through this terrible winter (somehow!) and that means it is time to start cleaning up the bits of your life that have been neglected these past few months. For most people, the tradition of “spring cleaning” often means cleaning out garages, basements, crammed closets, prepping the yard for warmer weather, etc. While you’re at it, have you also thought about cleaning up your social media profile(s)?
After all, they are like the online attics or basements where you store your memories, photos, and mementos – except they are not exactly hidden away. Seriously people, you are posting things for the world to see! That is both the benefit and disadvantage to social media – everything is so easily collected. If you could pull together all of the things you have ever posted and uploaded into a pile, not only would you be boggled by the amount of personal information you have put out there, you’d likely be embarrassed by a good portion of it. Just like the physical spaces, sometimes you have to take the time to clean out all of the junk.
If the idea of taking time to clean them up is a daunting one, then fear not. Here are a few tips to help you digitally spring clean the two most popular social media accounts: Facebook and Twitter.
It is probably safe to say that Facebook is the most popular social media site out there. By the end of 2013, they boasted more than 1.3 billion users. Admit it, when you meet someone that doesn’t have a Facebook, you stare blankly at them for awhile not comprehending, like they just tried to explain quantum mechanics to you. This is the world in which we live – hyper self-aware and connected.
Facebook just updated the timeline feature of the site that puts more emphasis on the content you post than ever before. With the connectivity that this provides, it is now easier than ever for people to “stalk” you all the way back to 2003. All those things you thought were safe in the vault of time are still there just waiting to be rediscovered. When it comes to cleaning up your News Feed, there are a few things you should consider when deciding what stays and what goes:
- Look over the posts that show up, are you still friends with the person who posted it? I don’t know about you, but the annoying comments that girl I knew back in college keeps making about her ex-boyfriend definitely aren’t making the cut. Delete.
- Don’t feel like you could bring yourself to completely delete someone? Make custom lists. You can make one for close friends, acquaintances, coworkers, family, etc., so that the posts from people you care about are featured more prominently.
- Before posting something, ask yourself two things 1.) Do I mind people seeing/knowing this? 2.) Will there come a time when I might be embarrassed by this? If the answer to either is “no”, then don’t post it. You know that drunk picture of you from Cancun in the seashell bra and hula skirt? Kill it and make sure it never sees the light of digital day (lads, I’m looking at you too!).
This is the part that everyone checks out first before adding you as a friend. It is worth it to make look good, but also be interesting. Some things to consider:
- Is your profile picture up to date? Even if your profile is set to be private (more on this in a minute), everyone can still see your profile picture. It is how people find and identify you online so make it a good quality photo you don’t mind being seen. If you insist on the clichéd duck-faced selfie, then by all means. Just don’t use something ambiguous like a group shot of your friends, your kid, a pet, or landscape.
- For that ambiguous photo, use it as a cover photo. This is the space to show what you care about or what best represents you as a person/business. Some people even blend their cover photos and profile photos creating fun illusions.
- Post a variety of content. Facebook lets you not only post text, but you can make use of photos, thumbnails, videos, and even hashtags.
- Be smart about what you “like”. Facebook uses the things you like to target certain things to you (updates, special offers, ads, etc.). “Liking” everything can certainly crowd your page and make finding the things most important to you difficult. Go to the “about” section of your profile to manage this and search for suggestions.
Facebook is really good about making sure that your privacy is respected and maintained. However, I’ll be frank here and say the thing most people won’t; if you have overwhelming concerns about your privacy being on the Internet, then maybe your social media should be tossed out entirely. The whole point is to be social, see and be seen. The trick is to be smart and utilize the tools Facebook gives you. Ways to make your profile more secure are as follows:
- If you only want certain people to see what you post, make your profile private. You have several options in this regard: making your profile only viewable by friends, filtering who can friend request you and message you, etc.
- Manage your activity log. This is one of the best tools to clean up your Facebook. It easily shows you everything you have posted to Facebook so that you can change who sees what, what appears on your Timeline, or you can delete things altogether.
- Set up who can view your posts. You can make certain posts visible to the public, your friends, or only you.
Second only to Facebook in terms of usage is Twitter with their nearly 700 million users issuing on average 58 million tweets a day. However, unlike Facebook, Twitter seems to be more naturally geared towards “the big things”. People aren’t really using Twitter to update us on every odd and end of their daily lives like on Facebook, which makes it slightly easier to clean up.
Twitter makes it really easy to follow people because even though they have similar privacy settings to Facebook, most people don’t feel the need to use them given the type of content they are posting. Due to this, Twitter gets you in touch with complete strangers and businesses more than Facebook simply because most don’t require their permission to be followed. One click and it’s done.
In amassing the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of follows and followers lays the problem of inactive users. Untweeps is a site that helps you filter out the people you no longer want to follow based on their inactivity.
To Follow, or Not to Follow:
Twitter can be a really weird thing. Often times, it is just you going on about random nothings. It can get even weirder if you have no followers. Out of courtesy, some people reciprocate a follow. However, when it comes down to it, Twitter is not only about following the people that follow you. If you run into the problem that many do where a reciprocated follow is met with the surprise that that persons tweets are annoying, overly frequent, or inappropriate – unfollow them. It’s as easy as that. However, going through all of your contacts to do this might be a bit daunting, but Tweepdash is one site that helps you filter through the chaos and get reorganized.
In terms of organization, Twitter lists are one of the best features of the site. Essentially, they help you break down the format of Twitter into more manageable topical chunks. You can create lists of users based on their importance to you (i.e. friends, family, work, interests, etc.). A good guide to help you do this is here.
Spruce Up Your Profile:
The three big features of your Twitter profile are your profile picture, bio, and background. When it comes to these items, the standards for what you use are the same as Facebook:
- Make sure it is a picture of you (or, if you are a business, your logo/design).
- Your background picture can be anything that represents you or your business (you can use Google to search for sites that customize them for a price or you can look for free ones).
- The Twitter bio is something that should not be underestimated. Even though it is limited by a character count, with some imagination and clever wording you can make it great like these.
When it comes to your Twitter profile, privacy is an issue that many people forget about because it is a very open format. Whether you realize it or not, many apps require access to your twitter or make it an option for easier log in. This can open you up to a range of security issues so be sure to go to your settings page and check out what apps you have given permission to – and, that you are okay with them.
Happy spring cleaning!