How To Protect Your Brand And Culture With Digital Footprint Checks - CheckSocial

How To Protect Your Brand & Culture With Digital Footprint Checks

Written by Dan Holman

You’ve invested time and money in building the brand, reputation and culture of your company. Those assets are worth protecting.

Here’s how we can help you protection your organisation.


Your employees represent you to your customers and to the outside world. What they say and do online reflects your company.

In today’s world of social media and the Internet, content can be posted online and viewed by millions in seconds. Just seconds to destroy what may have taken years of work to build.

What can you do to help prevent this?

One way that works is to find out how candidates behave online before they join your company.


Why conduct a digital footprint check?

Based on data from hundreds of social media checks that we have conducted, 20% of candidates have 1 or more red flags that you should consider when hiring a candidate.

Think about that for a second.

1 in 5 candidates have something online that could damage your company’s reputation.

What’s worse, many of these red flags did not appear during interview and didn’t show up in a police check.


What kind of things are red flags?

Here are some examples:

  • Inappropriate photos, videos or information
  • Information about a candidate’s drinking or drug use
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion and other sensitive issues
  • Information linked to criminal behaviours
  • Bad mouthing a previous employer or fellow employee


“Surely people don’t post this stuff online, where everyone can see it?”

Yes, people do really put these kinds of things online.

In most cases, they are not aware that the content is public, and anyone can search and view it.


How’s this system set up?

There are three steps to set up a digital footprint check:

  1. Obtain consent from the candidate
  2. Collect the candidate’s social media account details
  3. Conduct the search and generate the report

I’ll discuss the steps below, but let’s start with a little CheckSocial background screening history.

We started out doing social media checks as part of government security clearances.

Not that long ago, social media checks were optional in this process.

At first, there wasn’t a lot of guidance on how to do these checks.

Many checks were a simple Google search of the candidate’s name. As you can imagine, there were a lot of results and many of them had nothing to do with the candidate. People gave up. No adverse results found.

I knew we could do a better job, I just needed to find a way to narrow down the results to those that matched the candidate.

So, I got to work writing complicated Google search queries.

I had some success with this, and the results were better.


But there was another problem…

These results didn’t do a good job of capturing content from popular social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

My next task was to find a way to search social media platforms for accounts that matched the candidate.

I applied what I learned from Google searching, using the data I knew about the candidate to find their social media accounts.

After I found their accounts, I went through their posts, likes, photos, videos and shares, looking for red flags.

Eventually, I had built a great system for doing social media checks. In most cases I was able to find content related to a candidate and all their social media accounts.

The problem was that doing it properly manually was taking too long; anywhere from 40 minutes to 5 hours for each check.

We needed to automate the process.

That’s when I decided to create CheckSocial and build a platform that did just that.


Can I do this myself?

Definitely – let’s return to those three steps:

1. Obtain consent

In order to conduct a digital footprint check, you should notify candidates of your intention to review their digital footprint and obtain clear consent to do so.

Whilst not a legal requirement, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Article 29 states that even though a candidates digital footprint may be publicly available, employers should still notify candidates and obtain consent.


2. Collect the candidate’s social media account details

Create a form that captures the social media account details of the candidate. Most importantly, you should ask for their username on each platform, so you can find their profile on each one. If you do not already have photo ID, you should request a copy. This will help confirm that a social media account belongs to the candidate.

I recommend that you add a declaration to the form that advises the candidate that any social media accounts that are not disclosed and are discovered through the check, will be included on the report. This will help ensure candidates provide the account details upfront, so you don’t have to spend the time discovering them.

Ask the candidate to fill out the form and return it to you. A good time to do this is when you are collecting information for other background screening processes, like a police check.


3. Conduct the search and generate the report

First, ensure you have all the social media accounts for the candidate. We find that the most popular platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. This is a good place to start.

For any missing accounts, spend some time searching in Google and in the platform to discover them.

Conduct Google searches using the data you know about the candidate. A good place to start is by entering their name in quotes followed by their location.

For example, “First Last” location. Adding location narrows down the search results. Review the search results and note any that are relevant.

Visit each social media account and review their posts and comments, likes, shares, photos and videos. Note any red flags that you find.

Use a framework like the Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) PERSEC 12 Annex A to classify the red flags into risk factor categories.

Document your results in a report. Use the risk factors from the PSPF to order your findings.

Ensure that each finding lists where the content was found and why it is flagged.

Identify any social media accounts that were not disclosed and discovered during the investigation.

Note any web content that was relevant but not adverse, such as awards, education, employment, published content, and related businesses.


Add a digital footprint check to your hiring process today

Prefer to have us do the hard work for you? Check out our digital footprint checks. We support a range of industries.

CheckSocial is an online intelligence platform that automates digital footprint checks and online investigations. You can view our approach, or you can start a conversation about how we can help meet your online intelligence needs.

Learn more about digital footprints and online investigations, current trends, insights and practical tips for you and your business by following CEO Dan Holman and our company page on LinkedIn.