6 Tips to Avoid Social Media Embarrassment

I have a client who recently told me that he had set up 2 different Facebook accounts. After some clarification, I realised he didn’t mean a personal profile and a business page. He meant 2 completely different personal pages as well as the business page. To me, this is overkill.

In his case, apparently, there were some embarrassing drunken images which he didn’t want his professional network (including me) to see. I immediately started to wonder what could possibly be so bad.

I think the most “embarrassing” thing I may have on my Facebook is the picture of me at the Dead Sea covered in mud. I see myself as one person. I am running Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn for my business as well as a separate Facebook and Instagram for me – all these things do add up. So to add more to your plate with two versions of you – “work you” and “play you” seems to be madness. An utterly unmanageable task.

People worry about a lot of things – most commonly:

  • What if their potential clients or employers notice something that could jeopardise their chance of closing a new sale or getting a new job?
  • What if someone sees a picture of them that is unflattering and then thinks “hmm, they’re not that attractive after all”
  • What if someone sees a comment or a photo that you made and thinks negative things about you as a result?

Some of these things aren’t that likely. People can be judgemental, but most of the time people are far too critical of themselves. My school of thought? Cultivate a good impression of yourself but you don’t have to be airbrushed and perfect. Being human is a good thing and makes people connect with you.

Here are the ground rules I would follow.

1. I recommend being you on Twitter – at least until you feel very comfortable on Twitter and have seen the difference between how people vs brands behave. Being you, running your own Twitter account, allows you to interact, be personal, share things you are interested in, and most importantly not be only about work or industry related things. It will allow you to be yourself and show your personality. So, feel free to show your face as your profile picture.

social media embarrassment

2. If you have a company and your company needs to be on Twitter as a brand, then you can have this account shared between several in your team. In this case, the profile pic can be a logo. But it has got to be managed diligently – discuss the frequency, types of posts, what’s allowed and not allowed, content sources and tone of voice – if you have people who are good at Twitter helping you, you can minimise the need for any strict approval process. If you’re new to Twitter, start with the personal version – be yourself on Twitter, and then add the company one when you understand the requirements of Twitter.

social media embarrassment

3. On LinkedIn – for your personal page – write in the first person, have a proper profile picture, and don’t use a logo, that just looks weird on LinkedIn. I have seen some people do it – it’s not common but it happens and it is a symptom of people thinking they need to be two people. You can use your company logo on your LinkedIn company page instead.

4. Make sure you adjust your settings on Facebook so that only friends can see your pictures and updates. And when someone tags you, it has to be approved by you before it shows up on your timeline. And remember that you don’t have to approve everything.

If someone puts something up about you that you think is embarrassing or inappropriate, get in touch and as nicely as possible ask them to take it down – say something simple like “Would you mind please removing that picture of me you just posted? I am friends on Facebook with some of my professional network – and I feel that picture is not appropriate – you know how some people are.” Asking nicely like this usually gets that result. And if they don’t accommodate you, you need to get yourself some better friends.

6. Take some time to go back into the archives, and really look at the pictures of you. You would be surprised how nosy people can be. If you look like you’re having fun, out for a drink, partying, and even pulling funny faces, that’s allowed. It shows you’re human. I trust you to make a non-paranoid, logical decision about whether something really is that bad.I am still wondering what it is my client has on his other Facebook profile!

social media tips

With these 6 things in mind you don’t have to separate your work and personal life on social media – you can just be your singular, amazing self.

Keren Lerner

Keren Lerner is the CEO and founder of Top Left Design, a London based design and marketing agency. Founded in 2002, Top Left Design specialises in bespoke designed websites, brands, and marketing material with integrated marketing advice. Keren regularly speaks about design and digital marketing at seminars and workshops for industry organisations across different industries (property, HR, interior design, travel, food, film, finance, and law). She advises on social strategy and communication and trains businesses and teams on how to effectively market themselves online.


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