Social Media Etiquette for College Students and Young Professionals

03/11/2015 12:18 pm ET | Updated May 11, 2015

Students attend college to become educated, build friendships, and venture out into the world feeling confident and equipped with the skills a company will be impressed to review on a resume.

Unfortunately, a number of Oklahoma University students were recorded reciting racist comments, costing the students more than their Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity expulsion and a scolding from the president of the university. In the corporate world, employees are expected to be ambassadors of their company. I feel certain that OU and SAE expected the same respect and consideration from their student representatives.

Their behavior will be forever imprinted on the web, where future employers can readily gain access to their actions with little effort. Clearly the point is not about being caught, but having the good sense and solid judgment to NOT participate in archaic racist banter in the first place. This lack of common sense could have happened at any school, inside any fraternity, or in a myriad of circumstances. It's every individual's choice to understand that decisions, good or bad, can have long term implications.

The effects of social media are never more than a click away and everything you do can potentially be captured for the entire world to see.

Social Media Etiquette for College Students and Young Professionals:

  1. Determine how you want to be perceived on Facebook, Twitter, and all social media outlets. Like it or not, your communication becomes a strong part of your overall image. Recognize this as an opportunity to set yourself apart as a person with integrity.
  2. Know that employers DO check your social media accounts. Some may tell you they don't have time to visit everyone's profile, but smart employers know it's worth the effort before saying "yes" to a new hire.
  3. Google yourself. Observe what comes up, including Google images. Eliminate any questionable posts or pictures. Show respect for yourself and your credibility by keeping your posts (and your daily interaction) clean.
  4. You are what you tweet or post. People make judgments based on what they see and every post matters. Read through your stream and ensure it reflects your character.
  5. Don't rely on privacy settings. Anything can be shared on the web. Download an app that will alert you if something is posted online where your reputation could be in question. Google Alerts will monitor the web and notify you when your name has been mentioned. You can find a variety of tools by searching "Reputation Management".
  6. Dedicate posts emphasizing your achievements and accomplishments. Link to charities you support and let others know how they can get involved. Vary your content to retain interest. And, of course, only post if it's the truth.
  7. Take your online presence seriously. Social media is a phenomenal way to connect, build a community of like-minded friends and stay current on what's going on in the world. Use it wisely and you will reap the benefits. Abuse it, or disregard its importance, and you will eventually face the consequences.

For more of Diane's business etiquette tips, visit her blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and Instagram and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.