Sometimes I think that the phrase social media is somewhat of a misnomer. Social implies real-time communication between individuals and a two-way dialogue with wider society. For the most part, this is true.

However, in the age of big data and technology advancements, the conversations are not just living and breathing. They can be captured and recorded in all manner of stealthy and unknown ways.

There are many technologies and programs that are not yet in the public domain, and which may stay in the shadows of the internet for a long time yet. Information will increasingly become the currency of the next 50 years. Google started it by cataloguing what we are searching for, and the logical next step is analysing what we are saying, sharing and liking.

Information is power, and you can rest assured that this “people analytics” industry is going to become an incredibly powerful one. Some have even predicted the sophistication of Big Data analysis to such an extent that even now we should be extremely careful about our online activities.

You wouldn’t want to be excluded from your dream job in 10 years time because of a few minor misdemeanours over the last year. Everyone is flawed in some way, but the microscope will soon be able to peer that much closer.

From a recruitment perspective, there are already ATS systems that pull up everyone’s social media profiles in one easy to view place. They pick up the emails that people used to register with, and they can sometimes throw up some very interesting choices. In this example, people haven’t chosen to broadcast which social media websites they have joined, but there is software that makes it very easy to find out.

The point, that I would like to make, is that it is time to think in much greater detail about your (online) personal brand….

Any activity on the internet (yes, even that sort of activity) will give people a profile of what sort of person you are. At the moment, it is still difficult to collect, analyse and categorize this activity, but you can rest assured that this sort of thing will become far more mainstream soon.

The scary thing is that it will be able to look into the past.

So, think hard about how you would like to be perceived and how a version of yourself in 10-15 years would like to see his or her younger self. Be authentic on social media, by all means, but please do bear in mind…. your activity does not disappear into a black hole. Just because no one is commenting on that blog doesn’t mean that it isn’t being filed away in your record somewhere.

Having said all this, I love social media, I really do. My husband and I have over 14,000 connections on LinkedIn, and we run a couple of leading Healthcare groups.

We have connected with so many amazing people, and I am now starting to blog to get my voice out there, to share what is important to me.

Even so, I will never stop being careful.