Social Media Etiquette for College Students

Students: Worried that embarrassing picture of you on Facebook might come back to haunt you? Well, you should be. Don't miss these essential tips for protecting your online reputation, now and in the future.

Student Social Media

Living La Vida Internet

Are you a college student? Odds are pretty good you're spending a lot of time online. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that three-quarters of today's 18-29 year olds have a profile on at least one social networking site.

And it's not just about making connections - Pew also found that one in five have posted a video of themselves online. For better or for worse, young adults are putting themselves out there for the world to see.

Of course, this new passion for publicity can have negative consequences. Put the wrong thing on the Web and you may find yourself getting turned down for that job or internship five years later. But putting the right things online can actually be good for your personal and professional relationships.

Whether you're a social media expert or just entering the Facebook/Twitterverse, these tips will keep your online reputation sparkling.

Google Yourself

You can bet that future employers - and boyfriends or girlfriends - will be searching for your name online. The first step to polishing your Internet image is to find out what they're seeing.

Delete That Photo

College and parties go hand in hand, but there's no need to have a permanent record of that keg stand you did last night. Keep your own photos clean, and ask your friends to take down any embarrassing or incriminating pictures of you.

Watch Your Language

Cursing may not be as taboo as it once was, but it still doesn't reflect well on you. Use good grammar and clean language and you will present yourself with eloquence and class.

Don't Talk Trash

Online anonymity is a thing of the past, but people are still foolishly emboldened by the 'safety' of sitting behind their computers. Never say anything online that you wouldn't say to someone's face - especially your professors or employers.

Social Networks

Don't Be a Gossip

We all have secrets that our friends, family and future employers don't need to know about, but many people still feel free to air their dirty laundry online. Respect other people's privacy, and they'll respect yours.

Promote Yourself

Cleaning up your profile is only half the battle. To really create a positive online presence, you need to put out regular, interesting content. And that doesn't mean tweeting what you had for lunch. Share your insights, show off your achievements and make it clear that you're a thoughtful person with something to say.


It's called 'social networking' for a reason. Now that your profile is nice and polished, put yourself out there. While it's good to be cautious about 'friending' coworkers or employers, you'd be surprised at the networking opportunities that can result from connecting with classmates and friends.

Don't Spam

Of course, there's a right way and a wrong way to make new connections. Nobody likes getting a bunch of anonymous friend requests from people who never engage them again. Introduce yourself with a personal note, and make your presence (politely) known by commenting on their profiles and sharing links and useful information. Most people will reciprocate, and you'll form a meaningful relationship that can be fruitful in all sorts of unexpected ways.

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