Have you ever heard the saying, “Your first impression is your last impression”? I’m sure you have in some type of verbiage. Even though this may sound silly, it tends to be true. Human beings judge other people and situations as quickly as they possibly can. I honestly don’t believe it’s out of malice, but out of our deep-seeded survival-oriented mindset. With that being said, there is a whole other level to first impressions as we’ve always known them. Now, there is the concept of a digital first impression. In a world of social media, working remotely, and conducting businesses solely online, your digital first impression means EVERYTHING. So many things have changed in the world of technology over the last few years, and it can be hard to keep up with what proper online etiquette should be. Since this post won’t always be updated regarding new standards in tech, I’ve decided to give you some broad and timeless guidelines to how you should present yourself on the virtual level. Here are the areas of the online world that you need to consider.#1. Your Website
Especially if you are in any modern or service-based industry, your website needs to be clean, aesthetically pleasing and straight-forward! I honestly cannot stress this enough! I’ve personally talked to so many people that decided to go with another candidate or business solely due to their website (or lack there of). Certain industries can get away with having an outdated website, but I would say 9 times out of 10 that you need to abide by current site trends. Not having a great website instantly gives off an amateur impression to your end users. If you’re claiming to be an expert of any kind, you need to have evidence of it online. I guess you can say that the proof is in the digital pudding.
#2. Your Voice
Think of your voice as not only what you write online but your overall style of communicating. If you constantly include controversial or inappropriate language and content in your posts or profiles, you’re going to have a bad time mmmmkay? I’m hoping my fellow South Park lovers caught that reference. Anyway, you I say this because you don’t want people to get the wrong idea about you or your interests. Realistically speaking, all of us cuss here and there and many of us have what can be considered an “inappropriate” sense of humor. The difference is that most of us hide it behind closed doors or only show that side of ourselves to the people we’re really close to. You don’t want a potential employer or client to think you’re a walking wild card simply because you love quoting a NSFW show or something of that nature. Is it right or fair for people to judge you based off of something so minuscule? No, of course not, but they do A LOT.
#3. Your Pictures
I’m going to throw another cliche at you, since I’m on a role today. A picture is worth a thousand words. As I’m sure you can guess, this (sadly) is also true. Think of some of the most iconic photos of all time and then think about how much of an impact they’ve made on other people. Your photos can hold the same kind of power to your immediate surroundings and your digital audience. You want to make sure that you aren’t letting a photo define who you are (or aren’t) from a single glance. You can’t always control this due to the nature of social media, but try not to have the photo of you chugging a beer as your profile photo. Another good rule of thumb is to have a professional headshot for your LinkedIn picture. I’d go into more examples, but I think you get the picture. Yes, that pun was intended.
#4. Your Audience
How you communicate with your online audience, interestingly enough, impacts how you’re perceived. Think of communicating with your audience as being a customer-service-oriented experience. The kinder and more informative you are, the better impression you’ll give off online. Whether you’re representing yourself or a brand, keeping positive relations with your community is super important! If you come across as rude, or even unresponsive, to your following, it won’t resonate very well to the lurkers on your profile. I suggest being polite in all of your digital messaging and to create a “safe space” of communication to allow engagement from across the board.
Remembering these guidelines for your online presence can be much harder to implement than it looks. Just remember to be on guard when it comes to your reputation! You still want to be yourself, just a slightly more censored version of yourself. I hope these tips help, and remember to ask me any questions in the comment section below!
Infographic of the Week:
Question of the Week:
What mistake do you often see people make online?