What is your personal Facebook photo policy? Three steps to brand-aware photo sharing
With Facebook being touted as the largest photo-sharing site online, beating out even Flickr, it's not uncommon to see a mix of personal and professional photos on a Facebook personal profile. Since Generation X in particular tends to accept that the lines between personal and professional are gray and blurry, no one expects everyone to be buttoned up and perfect all the time. That being said, tagged photos can be a cause of concern. Not only do many potential employers search Facebook to see the more quotidian side of a candidate, but a Facebook profile is part of one's public image, even for those not in the midst of a job search.
Do not let fear of improper photo tagging keep you from taking or sharing pictures. Just be aware of how your personal brand is being perceived. With that in mind, here are my basic guidelines for online photo sharing and tagging:
Do take pictures. Do ask to post and tag. Take lots of pictures wherever you go. If it's not a social media event, make sure you know the difference between pictures that are OK to post and those that are just for on-site sharing among friends. At social media events, it's pretty easy; we all expect for our pictures to be taken and tagged. At other events, even public ones, that might not be the case. If you have any doubt, best to ask immediately after taking the picture, "is this OK to post publicly? And can I tag you?" I know it's hard to believe, but some people haven't yet considered these questions, even when they pose for a picture. I always take photos at social events, and I am especially flattered when someone makes a shot I took his profile picture. That is a fabulous compliment in my book.
Don't do stupid shit when there is a camera around. A good rule in general. First, coming from the on-camera world of print, TV and movies, I have an uncanny 6th sense when a camera is pointed towards me. Yes, I've posed for all those "candid" shots you took. I always know when a camera is around. So a good general rule is, "don't do stupid shit when there is a camera around." This means not drunkenly posing in an inappropriate stance or doing something you wouldn't want your grandmother to see. I'm not saying don't do those things--by all means, go out and live! Have fun, be drunk, be silly. But if there are cameras around, consider your image. If you want the wild and crazy pic for yourself, simply ask the photographer not to post it publicly.
Carefully consider requests to remove photos. This is one I've stumbled across just once or twice. When and why will you take down photos of others? Two cases I ran across:
- I did have a party-heavy friend who asked to take down a shot of him because he looked obviously drunk. I took it down immediately, but it got him thinking about his own image: he often talked about being a partier and being drunk frequently, but there was something about seeing the image on Facebook that he was uncomfortable with, in spite of his own self-promotion of his party image. And knowing his excellent reputation as a party planner, I was happy to help.
- A colleague asked me to take down a picture of her and replace it with a Photoshopped version. The original photo was clearly professional and flattering; there was no reason to replace it with one that had been altered. That made me uncomfortable, and I refused. What would you have done?
What about you? What are your photo posting and tagging guidelines?