Your reputation is shaped by what you present online and how others perceive it. When you do something positive, like making funny or relatable social media posts, people will associate you with that kind of messaging. But if you slip up, well, that’s a whole different ball game altogether.
Having a positive online reputation allows you to establish relationships built on trust, elevate your brand, and attract new followers while opening up opportunities for potential partnerships and brand collaborations. This is why maintaining a positive digital footprint is so important for content creators, influencers, and professionals alike in the modern marketing landscape.
Being mindful of your online activities and sharing content that aligns with your values are, of course, key to preserving your image, but they are just a start. In this article, we’ll tackle some of the most effective ways for cleaning up your social media history so you don’t have to worry about any long-forgotten posts from your past coming back to haunt you (or the brands you work with) at the worst possible moment.
Why cleaning up your social media matters
Maybe you’re an influencer on the cusp of signing a new sponsorship deal. Or perhaps you just finished the final round of interviews for your dream job. One of the last and most critical steps for an ever-increasing number of companies is the social media background check. And while most will treat this as a formality (and it often is), it can also be the make-or-break when it comes to getting that contract signed.
Because it’s no secret that unprofessional and inappropriate social media posts can adversely affect businesses and brands, whether it’s a post from an employee, a creator/influencer partner, or the brand’s own social media team. One bad post can undo years of work building a professional reputation and can lead to unnecessary controversies or, worse, missed opportunities and revenue.
Plus, there are so many types of content that can attract public scrutiny. The worst case scenario involves getting “canceled” on one or multiple platforms because once that happens, returning to some semblance of normalcy can be a difficult uphill task.
How to perform a social media audit to evaluate your online presence
One of the most useful things you can do to help evaluate your online presence is performing a social media audit. This will show you how well your social media efforts match your business goals by revealing your top-performing content and platforms. This can then inform your strategy while also giving you valuable insights into your audience and what they like. But how exactly do you go about performing it?
Identify every social media platform you use
The first thing to do in a social media audit is to list all the social media platforms you’re active on that can be traced back to you or your brand. Most people will have at least one social media account on the major platforms, which includes Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and X (formerly known as Twitter) – but keep in mind this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means.
Compare your profiles and ensure they’re consistent
The next step is comparing the profile information on all your social media accounts and ensuring it’s all consistent. But this goes beyond simply ensuring all your accounts match in terms of the profile and banner images, tone of voice, and location. You should double-check that important things like your contact info, website URL, and bio are all aligned as well.
Find out what works for your audience
You can better understand your audience on each platform by digging deeper into their demographics, using either the built-in analytics tools or a third-party platform. Find out what your audience demographics look like (i.e. age, gender, location, interest, etc.) and for even further insights, break it down by social media channel and compare them to each other.
Determine how well your current strategy is working
This is when you analyze your content to find out what’s working and what’s not. Identify your best-performing and worst-performing posts for each social profile by looking at engagement metrics (such as likes, comments, or shares) or other KPIs that align with your objectives (all major social media platforms have built-in analytics tools that track these metrics automatically). Analyze these posts to get a better understanding of why they did or did not succeed.
Post frequency and timing
Other things to consider are how frequently you’re posting on each platform and whether you’re following best practices. For example, it’s recommended to post anywhere between 1-4 blogs per week (or every other week) on your website, whereas you should be posting 1-4 times a day on TikTok.
Timing is another important aspect to consider. On TikTok and Instagram, many people will post at any time on any day of the week, especially on their personal accounts because they’ll want to share what they’re up to at night or on the weekend.
On the other hand, someone who’s focused on growing their brand and following on LinkedIn will probably want to stick to posting on week days during normal business hours because that’s when the majority of their audience will be most likely to see their content.
Always be on the lookout for questionable content
Moreover, it is important to be able to identify potentially harmful content on social media and respond promptly. Consider the following tips:
- Review comments on your posts from other users to ensure they aren’t harmful.
- See if there is anything that could somehow incite harassment or violence.
- Look for any content that feels outdated, especially jokes that didn’t age well and references to old internet fads.
- Review any content that may indicate false information.
- Use content filtering and moderation tools to identify and manage harmful content.
If a brand you are looking to work with requires an opt-in process to vet your social media profiles, take that as a good sign because it will not only help you demonstrate your alignment with that brand but it will also help you understand your potential risk to other brands / your desirability for future brands
Cleaning up different social media platforms
When cleaning up your social media accounts, it’s crucial to guarantee your past won’t come back to haunt you. This means you need to do a deep dive into old posts, email addresses, and forgotten accounts that are still linked to you, your online alias, or business and re-examine them.
You know how it goes – you may see old posts that no longer reflect your current views. In that case, it might be a good idea to go ahead and remove them one by one.
An important word of advice is to do a comprehensive review of the platforms you’ve been on the longest, even if you don’t use them much anymore. For example, let’s say you’ve been on Facebook since 2006 and only joined TikTok in 2020 – there’s a much higher chance of something questionable being buried in your old Facebook history simply due to the age of your account.
How to clean up your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts
Additionally, learn how each platform accommodates the social media clean-up process. For Facebook, go to your profile, tap the three dots, and select “Activity log.” From there, you can choose between managing your posts to seeing everything you’ve shared, been tagged in, liked, reacted to, commented on, and so on.
Tick the checkboxes on the left to select the posts, and then choose between either removing, archiving, or deleting them for an easy way to tidy up your Facebook content.
It is also quite simple for Instagram. You can manually remove photos and videos from your Instagram feed by going to your profile, selecting the post, tapping the three dots in the top right corner, and choosing “Delete.” You can also select “Archive” to hide them from your profile.
For Twitter, similar to Instagram, you can remove your tweets manually. You can also type your username in the search bar and input potentially damaging keywords next to it such as “[your name] [profanity]” to speed up the audit process.
4 practical steps for effective social media clean up
The following steps provide a practical guide for cleaning up your social media history.
1. Deleting inappropriate posts and comments
Review your profile for inappropriate content and consider how others, especially potential customers, employers, and brands might perceive it. If you can’t imagine it going well, remove it right away.
Ensure that posts and comments with profanity, excessive drinking, drug use, or illegal activity are also promptly deleted.
Leaving harmful posts on a platform can come back to hurt you. Duolingo’s case is a prime example of this. Remember the Amber Heard v. Johnny Depp trial not long ago? In a TikTok clip where Heard mentioned being targeted by an online hate campaign, the educational company made a comment that was considered insensitive, saying, “Y’all think Amber watches TikTok?”
Although the comment was quickly deleted, screenshots were taken and it went viral as social media users condemned the brand for insensitivity.
2. Archiving old posts
Instead of deleting posts, you can also make them private by archiving them. This is a popular tactic for posts that didn’t perform well but are otherwise not problematic at all. This way, you have the option to make the post public again if you change your mind or if it becomes trendy or culturally relevant again. For highly damaging posts, however, it’s best to just delete them to minimize any online traces.
Alternatively, making your account private allows your friends and followers to still engage with your posts without you having to worry too much about public visibility. This option makes the most sense if you’re dealing with a personal or smaller account because for larger brands and creators, it’s recommended to have a public profile for maximum reach and awareness.
To archive posts on Instagram, tap the post, then tap on the three dots at the top right corner and select “Archive” from the menu that appears.
3. Updating your profile
Your social profile should be able to give potential brand partners a quick snapshot of who you are, your vertical or niche, and the kind of content you create.
Here are several tips for updating your social profile to enhance your brand:
- Ensure consistent display names and profile pictures across your various social accounts because consistency is key to building trust
- Use a high-quality, properly sized profile picture for each social media platform.
- Include relevant SEO keywords or mention current promotions in your bio (or include a link to them in your bio).
Make sure every account is at the same level of quality so that your branding stays consistent because you never want potential clients wondering whether your accounts are fake or not.
4. Managing tagged photos and posts
Remember to check your tagged photos on Facebook and Instagram. You might have been out with your friends celebrating, it might have been a fun night, and it might have been years ago, but be thorough in removing tags from inappropriate or problematic photos that don’t paint you in a positive light.
Untagging yourself from an Instagram post is super simple. All you need to do is click the post, tap on it to reveal the tags, tap your username, select “Remove Me From Post,” and that’s it, all done.
To remove a tag from a photo on Facebook, you can go to your profile, tap on the photo, select “More Options,” and then tap “Remove Tag” to confirm.
Leveraging tools and techniques for social media clean up
There are several social media management solutions you can use to help you clean up your history. You can use tools like Google Trends and Google Alerts to track the performance and analytics of your personal page and this data can help you identify trends, engagement levels, and potential issues that require cleaning up. These free tools can also help you analyze keyword usage and track mentions across various platforms, including news sites, blogs, review sites, and forums.
Regular reviews and clean-up sessions
A positive online presence has to be maintained – you can’t just do it once and then never come back to it again. Just because things are good now does not mean they’ll stay that way forever. You might update your logo in the future, change your tagline, or adapt to new best practices and you need to ensure these changes are also reflected on your social profiles.
Also, remain vigilant and make sure there are no negative posts out there that you missed somehow and remove inactive, irrelevant, or fake accounts to further streamline your social media presence and ensure meaningful engagement with your audience.
Additionally, as society progresses, things we consider appropriate now might not “age well” in the future. Regularly cleaning up your social media will not only keep you relevant but also in line with the current social trends. Using effective social media monitoring solutions can also help you maintain a positive online image without all the manual labor.
Navigating the social media clean-up process
It can be difficult to regain control of the narrative if your reputation is damaged, but it is possible. Reflect on what happened and consider all the factors that led to the damage. Next, the critical thing for you to do is to be truthful. Lying or denying will only make it worse; instead, focus on slowly rebuilding trust by just being honest.
Damage or no damage, authentically presenting yourself in a way that others value, believe, and respect can bring many positive outcomes for you. Communicating what you stand for is another way to ensure your online persona aligns with your online presence.
One notable instance of a company bravely and authentically taking a stand was when Nike supported Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during a football game to protest racial injustice. Their emotional ad, “Dream Crazy” featuring Kaepernick, won an Emmy for outstanding commercial in 2019.
Transform social media maintenance into a habit
A great social media strategy involves using the right platforms to create engaging content that builds relationships while minimizing risky or “cringy” content that can put your reputation in danger.
By consistently creating positive content and cleaning up, you can gradually build engagement and allow your audience to expect quality content from your social channels while showing others the value you’ll bring to any potential partnerships.