To determine how prevalent social media has become in daily life, you only need look at statistics for Facebook. An astounding 43 percent of the U.S. population – or approximately 134 million people subscribe to the social media network. Individuals and businesses alike use social media to connect, and it’s become commonplace to interact via one social network or another during a given day, even at work. So while understanding and participating in social networks may be important to your job, there should be a balance in terms of the content you publish and access – both in the office and beyond. Since access to information on the internet is only a mouse-click away, monitoring and managing your online activity is more important than ever, especially in the era of social media.

Here are some common practices you should follow:

1. Nothing is private.The number one rule of thumb for any online communication is that everything you say online can be used for public consumption. If you type it and send it, it can be accessed and re-published. Do not share personal information on pubic networks – no ranting about your bad boss. Do not share business information – no divulging inside company information, unless it has been made public. Do not share your weekend dramas unless you don’t mind them being public knowledge. Remember, the content you post online is permanent – if you are not sure if you should post it, it means you probably should not.

2. You are your network. Put simply, the associations you make online represent who you are perceived to be offline. If you connect with a lot of people who post racy content and photos, you won’t be immune to their influence. Be picky, especially when it comes to online associations and the content being shared.3. Limit how much time you spend on social networks.Just like you have limits to how much time you spend chatting with office mates and how much time you take for lunch, the same premise applies to spending time on social networks at work. Many businesses monitor Internet access; you should be mindful of this. Also, if your boss frequents your desk or office and sees you constantly on your Facebook page, this is akin your boss seeing you spending most of your time socializing at work – neither will be perceived as productive.

4. Stay positive.Social media was created so that we could easily communicate with friends and family – it’s a terrific tool. While we love to gripe with those closest to us, remember, everything you say online can be accessed off. Keep the communication positive.

5. Protect your privacy.Never leave your computer unattended in the office. Never share your passwords. Make sure you privacy settings are set-up accordingly for each network you frequent. Don’t’ make it easy for someone to access your account and post under your name – this can be detrimental.

6. Monitor yourself. Set up a Google alert for yourself. That way you always know when something crops up, good or bad, and you can take measures to deal with it immediately before the damage is done.

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