Cleaning HouseNew Year is almost upon us! For now, people are still rushing to get a fantastic deal on a backlit LED TV. But soon, gym memberships will be purchased, diaries started, and peace and compassion will settle down upon all of mankind.

For a few short days, you will wear what you should wear, and not what you should not wear. You’ll swear off cable TV and hit the treadmill instead. You’ll pick up heavy books and ruminate on weighty thoughts. You’ll catch yourself before speaking ill of your spouse’s sweater selection. And then, in a pattern too predictable for a Medium episode, we will all fail.

We will become TV watching, non gym going, non reading, judgmental and over-eating people again. We will become ourselves once more. However, we have a saving grace that we did not have before. We have our alternate digital lives that can continue January First’s bold plans for the future and grasp what we too often drop. Our social media selves may be our only hope to make our resolutions live on and forever suspend our temporarily thin faces in thoughtful and intellectual expression.

So this New Year, show your digital identity some respect and it may return the favor. Here are a few housekeeping tips to tidy up your online identity. After all, your digital self may be the only one living up to its promises.

  • Take a new picture. It matters. Are you using one from 2006? Do you have one of your kids half framed in the picture? Are you wearing a tuxedo? Tidy it up and make sure your image is current and engaging.
  • Pare back. Run through your LinkedIn connections and take the time to de-connect with everyone that you don’t know. It’s a waste of time that you don’t need in the new year. Prune back – think about Swedish design principles while you’re clicking away.
  • Go old school. Did you use a “set it and forget it” approach to your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts? Are you auto DMing your new followers or pushing out RSS feeds through your social accounts? It might be time to just bag all of that stuff. Manually update the networks you care about. If you find yourself not updating certain networks, don’t feel guilty about it. There’s a reason you don’t care about them – they don’t matter to you. Trust your gut.
  • Drop out. That’s right. In the US, there are 3 social networks that matter: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (maybe 4 with Google Plus). If you’re getting emails from other ones, it’s time to quit. Ask yourself if there is true value and if you have the time to use it for some business purpose. If not, don’t sign up. You’re probably not missing much.
  • Clean it up. Run through your profiles and make sure that you look like you want to look to the world. Use this time to take out personal info that you’re not comfortable sharing. Delete irrelevant positions, use concrete language that sells, and make your profile useful. What does that mean? If you sell widgets, give people a reason to buy widgets from you.
  • Divide & conquer. Use networks for clear and specific purposes. Separate business and recreation and your family and friends from your casual business acquaintances. Take some time to set up Google Plus circles, Facebook lists, LinkedIn tags – but whatever you do, do something. Don’t attempt to portray your whole self to everyone, because all of this social media stuff will never add up to all that you are.

We’re all trying to make 2012 the best year ever – the year that we live up to our best selves. So while we try to keep our promises, let’s be sure our social media selves aren’t weighing us down and even, perhaps, pulling us along.



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