Earlier this month Debrett’s, the go-to resource for all
things ‘proper’, announced a new course for 13 to 16 year olds called Coming of
Age, the main aim of which is to help young people to manage their online
reputations, highlighting the importance of online profiles for both employers
and employees.  

Frankly, we’re surprised it has taken this long! For those
people now nearing their mid-twenties, who were among the first to be impacted
by constant connectivity from their teenage years, this may come as too little
too late.  

It is increasingly common to look up job candidates,
potential first dates, and persons of interest from news reports or reality TV
on social media, search engines, and any other portal which can be used to gain
information on individuals and those of us who lived our teenage years without
every statement or action being publicly documented, share an enormous sense of
relief.

The story of Paris Brown, who in 2013 was appointed as the UK’s
first youth police and crime commissioner aged just 17, highlights the
pitfalls of constant connectivity. Her
achievement was short lived due to the ramifications of living of her teenage
years ‘online’.  Paris felt pressured to
resign from the post after tweets, which she had sent between the ages of 14
and 16 and since deleted from her profile, were discovered and deemed inappropriate.
Bearing in mind that the role this teenager was hired to do was to improve
relationships between the police force and the young people in Kent, you would have
thought that Paris’ ‘misdemeanour’ might have been overlooked, or put down as a
consequence of youth. If someone who was hired specifically to build bridges
with young people was made an example of based on her online history, the rest
of us should be quite certain that we will be subject to similar repercussions
should our online history prove inappropriate in the eyes of our employers.

So, while Debrett’s digital etiquette guide is aimed at
teens (who we hope will heed the advice and protect themselves against being
the next public example of how online history can come back to haunt you), we
think anyone not yet familiar with the most essential do’s and don’ts of online
behaviour, should pay heed to the following tips. After all, people already in
the world of work are not beyond making statements they might regret, or
behaving in a way they wish hadn’t been captured on a phone camera!  

What’s more, many individuals set up social media accounts
for use in a professional capacity, from small business owners to employees of
global businesses. It can become unclear whether an individual’s post is
‘authorised’ by the brand, or is an individual’s personal opinion. If you’re a
business leader, ensuring your team’s personal accounts aren’t negatively impacting
your business is essential, as is encouraging your team to create a positive
social media presence which can give your business an enormous boost.

Top five tips to
protect your reputation online:

1.      
Don’t overshare; stop yourself from venting
about the traffic, your day at work (including your colleagues or cleaner), or
airing any type of dirty laundry!

2.      
Consider privacy settings on your personal social
media accounts –remember that once you have shared, it may never be possible to
completely erase a status or uploaded photo or video, as people can download
your media, and even screenshot your posts, comments and responses (and do tend
to if you have said something you’re likely to regret)

3.      
Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t be
happy to say in person. Stay positive and respectful, and try to offer
something that is fun, informative, or inspirational for your audience

4.      
Think about the image of yourself or the business
you are representing; try to show the best of yourself, but also try to avoid
showing off

5.      
Take care to write using correct spelling and
grammar. It may feel unnecessary, but avoiding ‘text-speak’, overly abbreviated
phrases or acronyms, poor punctuation and spelling mistakes will give a better
first impression to new audiences.



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