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Extreme Makeover: Online Profile Tips at SXSW

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Web 2.0 consultant Leora Israel photographs Nick McGlynn during their SXSW panel.

One of the major themes at SXSW was how do you effectively manage your privacy while simultaneously managing a stellar online profile?

Beyond the big think talks on the subject (Doug Rushkoff and danah boyd), NY-based web 2.0 consultant and nightlife photographer Leora Israel assembled a panel to discuss this in a more intimate setting. The panel included Nick O’Neill, who runs Mediabistro partner blogs SocialTimes and AllFacebook.com; nightlife photog Nick McGlynn; and Lookbooks.com co-founder Jonathan Levy. Jo Blackwell-Preston, who owns Dop Dop salon in Soho and is Creative Director for L’Oreal Professional, offered styling services to willing participants.

Leora opened up by stating that “Everyone can be beautiful- all you need is a photographer, a stylist, and a personality.” Simple enough, but who wants to put that much effort into it? Quite a few, it seems. The panel was packed, and though people were interested in the makeover portion, the conversation quickly turned to managing privacy, particularly on Facebook. The group offered savvy advice that amplified danah boyd’s research findings: only 35% of Facebook users understand their privacy settings, which means that 65% of the user profiles are public and available for anyone to view. The advice? Know your privacy settings. Decide on your profile objectives, and how you want to be portrayed online.

But, does anyone outside of your immediate social network really “see” your profile? Yes. A hiring manager for Playboy was the first to speak up. “We’re hiring an editor,” she said. “When I looked up the candidate’s Facebook profile, she had very inappropriate photos posted. You might think that at Playboy, it wouldn’t matter to us- but, we weren’t looking for a model.” The candidate was immediately disqualified.

Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3, and Rachel Sklar, Editor-at-Large for Mediaite, were two of the makeover participants and echoed the sentiments of the panelists. Louderback pointed out the “different rings of trust” that should determine who can view which part of your online life.

Some tips from the conversation:


- Make sure to view your profile through other people’s eyes (i.e. “Profile View”)
- If you need a professional account, use Facebook Fan Pages- not your personal profile.
- Make sure to get the photographer’s card (in case you need to request a photo, or request that one be removed from a website)
- Update your profile picture at least once per year.
- People really do read “About Me” sections, so make sure it’s sharp.
- Men, wear a shirt.

And the cut off for those wedding pictures you posted? 5 days.

For more on the subject, check out “5 Ways To Instantly Make Yourself More Attractive on Facebook” at AllFacebook.com.

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