I’ve had an exhausting past few weeks running errands, so I will just throw this article from PC Magazine at you cat ladies and let you go to town.
12 Online Rules You Should Follow Before Your Next Date
A recent survey found that around 80 percent of people conduct a Facebook or Google search of someone before their first date.
The practice is so common that means that how you present yourself online could actually be more important than what you wear or say IRL (in real life)—at least when it comes to nabbing a first date, or even a job interview.
“Everything you post about yourself online may be the only thing someone sees or knows about you,” says dating columnist and media personality, Julia Allison (pictured).
So how do you put your best face forward in the virtual world without overselling yourself? In light of Valentine’s Day, PCMag spoke to several dating experts about how to present your best online self in top Google search results: Facebook and Twitter. We also asked eHarmony and OKCupid how to give your online dating profile a makeover too.
Rule #1: Don’t post photos that you’ve obviously taken of yourself.
Whether you took a photo of yourself in the mirror, or your arms expose you holding the camera in front of you, keep such photos out of your profile.
“That just sends the message that you’re A) clueless to social norms, B) have no friends to take a photo of you, and C) are narcissistic,” Allison says.
There’s really no excuse not to have at least one quasi-professional photo of yourself, she says. Ask a photographer friend of yours, borrow a nice camera, or spend $100 on a set of professional headshots. “You’ll use these shots over and over again.”
And maybe we’re a bit biased, being a tech magazine and all, but we know of plenty of apps out there that can blot out the giant pimple on your chin or crop out the ex standing next to you.
Rule #2: Don’t humblebrag.
Humblebragging is just boasting couched in self-depracation. It’s when you pretend to be humble in a post, but you’re clearly bragging about something; like the skinny model who takes to Facebook to complain about not being able to find jeans long enough to fit her legs.
So how can you prevent yourself from being a humblebraggart? “Ask yourself, ‘Why am I posting this? is it to look cool? Or is it to entertain and inform—that should be your motivation. Post tasteful jokes, compliments, nice, supportive things,” Allison says.
Rule #3: Near-zero tolerance policy on drugs or alcohol.
Unless you’re a liquor store owner or celebrity bartender, in which case alcohol actually represents you, never refer to drugs or alcohol in your social networks. Assume your profile will be discovered by someone in human resources. The one exception, Allison notes, is if you’re toasting a major event with a glass of champagne.
Rule #4: Think ‘fun’ in your profile picture
If you’re at a loss, Allison also suggests tying your photos to a season or celebration. Wear green for St. Patrick’s Day, or pose against a Valentine’s Day backdrop. Or post a photo of yourself having fun (without a bong, see rule #3).
And change up your profile pic every few months, she suggests. “It’s really boring when people keep the same photo for three years,” Allison says. “Every few months think about the coolest thing you’ve done and you can make that your profile pic.”
Rule #5: Remember who you’re tweeting to: the world
Unlike Facebook, your Twitter account is either completely public or completely private to pre-approved followers. Most of us, however, use public settings, and therefore more thought and self-control are required to not sound like a trainwreck online. We’ve seen our share.
Keep your audience in mind. “I have trouble deciding what to tweet when I’m dating multiple people,” she says. After all, even if only your family officially follows you, anyone could be reading your tweets. So when in doubt, keep it off your Twitter page.
Rule #6: Give yourself a cute avatar.
Find that one flattering pic that really shows off your face and smile, Allison says. Avoid “I think I’m so sexy looks” she adds.
Rule #7: A 140-character limit is no excuse for juvenile abbreviations.
“I know a lot of people are going to disagree on this one, but I think abbreviating makes you look uneducated,” Allison says. “I’m not talking about common ones like ‘LOL’ or ‘Thurs’ for Thursday, I’m talking about ‘l8tr’ for ‘later.’ Use full, complete words with proper caps and punctuation or just don’t say it!”
Rule #8: Don’t make your baby or pet schnauzer your avatar
If you’re a new parent to a baby or animal, Allison says you have a two week grace period during which you can use photos of your baby or pet as your main profile pic. Outside of that, “it’s just weird,” she says.
Rule #9: Choose a nice close-up for your main photo.
Unlike on Facebook, your main profile picture should be a good close-up of your face rather than a distant shot of yourself having a great time on vacation.
“You want your main photo to focus in on your face and smile and not, for example, your vacation, so your matches can get a good feel for who you are,” says an eHarmony spokeswoman. “Matches have a hard time getting a good first impression if the main photo shows someone in a crowd.”
Rule #10: Avoid clichés in your profile.
One of the most boring things you can write in your profile is “I enjoy living life to the fullest.” This may be true, but it doesn’t say much to attention-deficit online daters. Give specifics. “Ask yourself what that means to you and expand on that thought so your matches have a clear idea of what you’re thinking,” eHarmony says.
Rule #11: Be a grammar and spell-check nazi.
The eHarmony spokeswoman says one of the top complaints on the site was bad spelling and grammar, which is usually associated with a lack of intelligence.
“Good grammar is the netiquette equivalent of brushing your teeth!” declared Sam Yagan, co-founder of OKCupid.com.
Rule #12: Sound positive and honest, Yagan says.
Leave the Debbie Downer attitude offline (then again if you’re a real pessimist, you probably wouldn’t be fishing for partners online anyway.) “Don’t diss people online,” says Allison. “Post things that are supportive and nice.”