Updating your online accounts is like flossing. You know it’s a good habit to have, but you somehow never get around to it.
Even if you’re the most on-point marketer or entrepreneur, account updates never get to the top of your priority list. After all, they work, right? So what if the bio is a bit outdated – it’s not crucial, we’ll deal with it later.
Well, guess what? Later is now!
Today I’ll share with you the key steps to getting your brand or personal online accounts up to date. This is essential for marketers and business owners, but also for freelancers or anyone who needs a well put together personal brand online.
So free up an hour on your calendar, get your virtual cleaning gloves, and get scrubbing!
List all your accounts – and don’t forget to look under the sofa
To know what needs cleaning, you first need to look everywhere. So make sure you check all your social accounts and digital platforms.
This can be a straightforward task. If you’ve been in business for a short while, there will be just a couple of places where you already have accounts. But if you’ve been around for some time, you’ve definitely tested one or two shiny new social media that didn’t amount to anything. Your profile there is probably still visible, though.
Just type your (brand) name in Google and check out the results. If you’re like most of us, you won’t need to go further than the first couple of links on page 2. There will be an account you completely forgot you created way back.
When I did this last, I saw that my AngelList profile shows up and this has last been updated in 2016. Ouch!
Check your standard username in bulk
We are creatures of habit, so we tend to reuse account names across channels. For businesses, that’s branding 101 – you need to be consistent across platforms.
So an easy way to uncover forgotten accounts is to go ahead and see if your standard username of choice is taken. It’s easy to do a bulk review with a tool like Namechk. This one is usually used for username registrations when creating a new brand but you can also use the platform to find out where your branded username is taken. Then just go to the site and review what appears under your account name. It might not be you who created it – but it might very well be something you set up and forgot.
Review your bio and make it consistent
Even if you use your accounts on a regular basis you’d rarely think of checking the bio. On social media, it’s usually hidden somewhere on the side so the chances of noticing it are even slimmer.
This means you get to now cringe at the positioning statement you used 3-4 years ago. Did I really write this? What was I thinking?! Quick, to the Edit button!
I usually keep the most recent version of my key brand messaging someplace safe on Google Docs. This includes a one-liner presenting the brand and an extended paragraph description. I’d open it up and check if what I have in my social media profiles is aligned well.
If you’re updating your profiles and you need some inspiration, Hootsuite provided a bunch of template formulas for social media bios. I also have my favorites. If it’s a product or company you’re presenting, I suggest you go with this one:
[BRAND] is a [CATEGORY] that delivers [DIFFERENTIATING POINT] so you can [BENEFIT]. We believe [BRAND VALUE].
If you’re working on your personal brand, then take a look at this formula for a snappy short bio:
I’m the [TITLE] at [COMPANY]. When I’m not [WHAT YOU DO], I’m [FUN FACT ABOUT YOU]. [CALL TO ACTION].
Update your key visuals
You’ve all seen them – these people who are now 34 but still keep their profile photo from high school. I personally feel this is cheating – if I can’t recognize you when I run into you on the street, what’s the point of a profile photo?
Make profile photos consistent
Being up to date on your headshot or brand logo isn’t the only thing. You need to make sure your profile photo is consistent across channels. That’s pretty easy for brands where only your logo makes sense. It should be pretty much the same for your personal accounts, too.
Having the same shot on all profiles can feel weird for some people but it ensures that your audience will recognize you more easily, no matter the platform. It’s a must if you’re developing a personal brand.
There are some exceptions, of course. If you’re working in a very conservative industry, your LinkedIn headshot will probably be in a navy blue suit. On Facebook, this won’t be appropriate. But in all other cases, treat your headshot like a brand’s logo and make it consistent.
If you are wondering whether or not a photo will make a good profile pic, you can ask friends for an opinion or use PhotoFeeler to get unbiased feedback from strangers. Here’s an example of the results with some shots I was comparing a while ago:
Avoid crappy cropping
For brands, obviously, it’s not so much a question of what to show but making sure what you’re showing looks good.
Here’s an example. A couple of years back, Facebook changed page profile photos from square to circle. Did you update your brand’s profile photo? A surprisingly high number of brands still haven’t and you see weirdly cropped logos all over. Take a look and update, if necessary.
Resize cover photos
Your cover photo on social media channels is a great branding element. Make sure you’re showing an up-to-date version of your brand.
Additionally, if you haven’t updated your cover photo in a while it might be getting cropped on some devices. Photo size requirements change like the wind. Here is a great guide on current sizes from SproutSocial and downloadable Photoshop templates from Falcon.io.
Upgrade your security
You have all these shiny updated profiles – it’d be a shame if something happened to them…
So while you’re doing your digital spring cleaning, make sure you pay attention to tightening your security, too.
Update your “p@$$w0rd” everywhere – and never use it again!
The two cardinal sins of account security are using weak passwords or reusing any password often. To move away from both, I highly suggest you get a password manager. My favorite is 1Password – it’s easy to use, it’s available on all devices and it works for two-factor authentication, too. It also shows you reused passwords and warnings about services that have leaked accounts after your last password change. Other options include LastPass and Dashlane.
If for some reason you still need secure passwords outside of a password manager, don’t go all crazy on the random letter/number/symbol combos and just stack a few words together – it makes for a stronger password. XKCD explains why.
So go through your passwords, update them, and make sure they are all different. You’ll thank me later.
Enable two-factor authentication
This is becoming a de facto standard for most social platforms and it adds an additional level of security to your accounts. Whenever the system detects a new login (for example, from a new device or a different IP address), you’ll be asked to enter not just the password but an additional time-based code.
Two-factor authentication is ridiculously easy to use, so just get on with it now and make it harder for hackers to get to your profiles. Here’s a handy website that lists all places that have 2FA and how to enable it. The most common tool for 2FA is Google Authenticator, but 1Password also supports it and there are other tools out there, too.
Check out who has access to company accounts
If you’ve updated your brand account passwords, you’ve made sure old employees who had access before won’t have it anymore. This is valid for things like Twitter where you can’t log in any other way than with the account username and password.
But on some platforms – like Facebook Ad Manager or your LinkedIn company page – you’re adding other users with their personal accounts. So check out who has access there, what permissions you’ve granted and who needs to be removed from the list.
Remove old app permissions
Five different social posting apps have access to my Twitter account right now. Do you want to take a guess on how many social posting apps I actually use?
We often give permissions to personal and brand accounts “just to test this new thing out” and then we completely forget about it.
So go through your social media security settings and revoke access for the tools you don’t use anymore. Here’s how to get this info on the most popular social media:
- Facebook: Settings > Apps & Websites (or just follow this link)
- Twitter: Settings > Account > Data & permissions > Apps and sessions (or just follow this link)
- LinkedIn: Settings > Account > Partners and services > Permitted services (or just follow this link)
- Instagram: Settings > Security > Apps and websites
Review all security settings on personal accounts
This is a catch-all point to check out the other security submenus after you’re done with the point above. Some of the things you might want to focus on for your personal accounts:
- Limit past posts on your personal timeline on Facebook
- Disable facial recognition and photo tagging
- Stop location sharing on social mobile apps
- Don’t let others see when you view their profiles on LinkedIn
There are a ton of privacy settings on personal accounts and Panda Security has done a great job of outlining what you need to pay attention to.
All of this applies to anyone and especially important for marketers – if our accounts get hacked, our employers or clients get exposed, too. I really don’t want to be in a situation where a bunch of nudes gets posted on a family vacation provider’s Facebook Page because of me.
There’s no time like the present!
The key to keeping your accounts up to date is to just dedicate some time to it. And the best time to do it is now. Follow along with the post or copy the checklist and get back to it at least once a year.
I’d be happy to hear if you pay attention to something more when doing your spring cleaning – just post it in the comments!