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In 2013, Justine Sacco made a joke about AIDS on Twitter. She typed out 12 words to her 170 followers, clicked send and got on a plane. By the time she off the plane, she was trending worldwide, there had been a public statement issued by her employer, and there was even a parody account in her name. A hashtag was born #HasJustineLandedYet as the audience’s anger turned to excitement, waiting for her to check her inbox post flight.

A career can be thrown completely off track by a bad joke, an unfortunate photo, or a heated comment. Social media can be dangerous for your professional reputation. Over 40% of employers in 2014 stated that they do some form of online referencing before offering a candidate a job, and employees are connected with an average of 14 co-workers on social networking sites. But going offline completely isn’t a reasonable option, personally or professionally.

Have a look below for 10 Social Media Do’s and Don’ts if you want to stand out for the right reasons.

DON’T
1. Complain
Don’t complain about your boss. Don’t complain about your co-workers. Don’t complain about your pay. Don’t complain about the brand of tea bags your work buys. In short, don’t complain! Even if you have good reason to complain, don’t do it online. At worst, it’ll be offensive to someone, or at best you still sound negative. No one likes negativity.

2. Overshare
There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting your hair down at the weekend, or with posting photos of you doing so. But when your Facebook starts to resemble an audition for the Hangover, be careful- especially if you’re connected with co-workers.

3. Insert yourself into controversial conversation
Try and be neutral in your comments and conversations, especially when it comes to politics, race or religion. By all means, have opinions and share them. But if you think it could be controversial or offensive, it’s best to avoid broadcasting over the internet.

4. Reference illegal activities
This should go without saying, but if you wouldn’t say it in front of a police officer (or your grandmother), it’s best not to put it on social media. This includes joking about it or commenting on it on Twitter.

5. Use bad grammar and spelling
Its rely hard to tak sum1 seriusly if they don’t spel proprly. It’s not the be all and end all, but it helps to avoid bad grammar and spelling if you want to portray yourself as professional.

DO
1. Highlight your strengths and interests
Social networking isn’t all about that party last weekend and the latest viral video of puppies water-skiing. Dress your profile to impress. Involve yourself in social media in order to celebrate your strengths and develop your interests. It’s also the easiest way to put your face, CV and skills in front of recruiters.

2. Link, follow and friend people you know and trust
Social networking at its best is a fantastic way to get connected, personally and professionally. Use your judgement when connecting with co-workers and be sure to maintain a secure page so you’re only sharing personal details with people you know!

3. Get active and stay updated
Staying updated professionally is useful when you want to stay active in the market or increase your value in your current role. Choose an angle of expertise and brand yourself. Okay, you’re not Apple or Virgin- but just like a brand, people need to understand you quickly and want to know more. Once you’ve decided who you are online, stay as consistent as is appropriate across any channels.

4. Give Back to the Online Community
Contribute to online discussions, participate in groups, share good news, and respond to all messages. If you are going to be part of the online world, do it in a real way that can be appreciated and reciprocated.

5. Be an ambassador 
For your company, for your job role, and for you. Celebrating and promoting what you do can be beneficial in so many ways; boosting your value in your company and helping create a community environment for those in your industry or doing your job role. It’s networking in the palm of your hand!

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