Question: would you attend an interview in your bathers? Would you invite a university professor to a music festival? Would you tag your boss in a funny (if a tad risqué) internet meme? No - right? Then why would you give them access to your Facebook profile? I am often shocked at the carelessness with which teachers treat their social media profiles.
There is no better way for an educator to extend their professional network than through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. However, when we make professional connections online, our profile should reflect only professional content, consider it your online CV. There is an abundance of Facebook groups ready to offer support and advice, and the power to connect with educators from around the world is truly immense. This is why you need two Facebook Profiles. One for work and one for play. Facebook allows you to easily swap between profiles using the ‘account switcher’ icon. A professional profile also helps you avoid the awkward situation of colleagues attempting to ‘friend’ you on Facebook, especially if you are their boss.
In your Professional Profile, it’s acceptable to lower your security settings and post publicly so that your audience reach is greater. When a potential employer Googles you (and they will) they will discover the “professional” version of you. Of course, it is okay to share some personal content on your professional profile too. All work and no play makes you seem like a workaholic! Generally, personal posts should be kept to a minimum.
Remember that through tags or likes, your Facebook profile may inadvertently give people access to things like your political views, your stance on current affairs, religious beliefs or more. These may be contradictory to your employer’s views or others in your professional network. Consider whether this type of personal information is something your professional network needs to know? For this reason, your personal profile should have the strictest security settings and only be accessible to your true friends and family. If you see work-related contacts appearing in your "People You Might Know" list, block them to fully protect your privacy and professionalism. If you can see them, they can see you.
Top Five Tips for setting up a professional Facebook account
- Log in with your work email. This will generate a “People you may know” list based on your professional contacts
- Use only professional photos for your professional Facebook profile. The headshot taken by your school would be an appropriate photo to use. We don’t want to see you in a pool in Bali (no matter how long it took you to work on your summer body!)
- Use this space to promote your work. Document an accomplishment, share your postgraduate studies or quotes from a PD you’re attending (remember to check the privacy rights of students and others if you share photographs online)
- Never log into your personal Facebook using your work email or work mobile phone number as this may inadvertently give your professional network access to your personal profile
Biggest Facebook Mistakes:
- Emotional posts: don’t about post things that affect your personal life
- Remember, the internet IS a public place regardless of your security settings. This means you are open for public comment! Deal with different points of view with diplomacy
- Never, under any circumstances, should you be friends with parents on Facebook. If you leave the school and wish to remain in contact, then only add the parent on your professional Facebook account
If a picture paints a thousand words, then a Facebook Profile can quickly give the public your autobiography. There is no denying Facebook is a powerful tool but educators need to be aware of the way it’s used to build their public profile and be clever in the way they leverage its use to their professional advantage.
Tania James is an Early Childhood trained, instructional leader with a Master in Educational Leadership and Management [Notre Dame University] and Graduate Certificate in Instructional Leadership [University of Melbourne, First Class Honours] having trained under Professor John Hattie and Professor Stephen Dinham.