How to manage your social reputation (part one)

Services like Reppler let you gauge what Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles really say about you -- and fix them before it's too late.

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These days, if you want people to believe you, you need a number. Credit scores indicate our financial health. Cholesterol scores suggest the odds of being felled by a heart attack. Now social media scores may help determine our hirability and/or desirability.

At least two services -- Reppler and TrueRep, an offshoot of the data broker giant Intelius – now assess your social media footprint and assign you a score. (Look for more on TrueRep in a future installment of TY4NS.)

I first wrote about Reppler last April. Back then it just offered a 30,000-foot view of your Facebook account, flagging status updates and wall posts that could get you in hot water later – sometimes to humorous effect. For example, Reppler mistook a status update mentioning “Texas tea” – ie, oil – as a reference to marijuana, and a wall post talking about US military bases for a discussion of freebasing.

Now Reppler offers the same kind of top-down view for Twitter, LinkedIn, Picasa, Flickr, and YouTube, then boils all of these down into a Social Image Score.

Are you a social media pariah? Reppler can help you find out.Are you a social media pariah? Reppler can help you find out.

The point of the score: To help you gauge how your profile looks to recruiters, HR folks, and other non-friends in a position to offer you an exciting job in the career of your choice. 

Why does that matter? Because Reppler also conducted a survey of 300 hiring managers at US companies. More than 90 percent of them say they check applicants’ social media profiles; roughly half do it as a routine part of the screening process. And more of them check Facebook (76 percent) and Twitter (56 percent) than LinkedIn (48 percent). So if you think you can keep the boring stuff on LinkedIn and be your normal party animal self everywhere else, think again.

I asked Reppler CEO Vlad Gorelick what it would take to earn a perfect score. It helps to have a large network of friends, he says, as well as sharing more information, not less -- for example, posting your work and education history on Facebook as well as LinkedIn, so HR folks can check to see they match.

Reppler looks at the overall tone of your updates -- are you sunny and upbeat, or do you complain bitterly about every slight? – and then uses “sentiment analysis” to gauge whether your posts are positive, negative, or neutral, says Gorelick. It flags potentially “inappropriate” posts – strong or derogatory language, references to drugs or alcohol, and “adult content” – so you can decide if you want to delete them before the Big Interview.

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