Social media is a modern-day phenomenon, allowing people to keep in touch with friends, family, coworkers, and even Internet strangers they’ve never met in person before, rather than requiring in-person, face-to-face communication. The number of people with at least one social media account in the United States has increased significantly each and every year.

For example, not even one-quarter of the United States population had a social media page, ringing in at $24 in 2008. Social media use in America hit the 50% mark sometime between 2010 and 2011, finishing the latter year at 52%. Today, an astounding eighty-one percent of Americans own at least one social media profile.With the widespread possibilities of peering into one’s personal life by “creeping” – it’s not creepy; everyone does it! – around one’s social media profile, many employers rely on social media to screen candidates. Per CareerBuilder, a whopping 70% of employers utilize social media in screening their applicants.

Let’s look into the basics of social media screening for employers – fortunately for you, this relatively new process doesn’t take up many resources, allowing even the smallest of businesses to engage in social media screening.

Outline a social media screening protocol

Without creating a set-in-stone means of conducting social media screening, employers engaging in this now-popular activity won’t consistently screen employees with the same standards, resulting in hiring employees over long periods of time with varying skills, abilities, and attitudes that effectively detract from the central idea of social media screening.

First, an entity should decide who screens applicants – usually either an employee or an independent, third-party social media screener.

Fama is a social media screening firm founded in Santa Monica, California, in 2015. As many people post their true opinions on social media profiles, Fama makes quick of weeding out those whose views aren’t appropriate, don’t match with employers, or are otherwise unfit for hire. Whatever independent social media screener you decide to hire, make sure they’re reputable and have positive reviews.

Next, screeners should be looking for particular items on applicants’ accounts to keep such vetting consistent. A good idea is to use an online app or downloadable program that sifts through all posts. Doing so cuts down time spent by employees on looking for bad attitudes, speaking out negatively against past employers, and other pertinent information.

You should also look at candidates’ pictures to ensure no inappropriate content is viewable. This includes drug use in profile and cover pictures or posts including media files.

Make sure to save screening protocol to be used in the future, whether another employee other than the primary screener will use it or not. It’s human nature to forget things; seeing as your screening checklist might be lengthy, there’s no reason not to save your social media screening list.

In the event you find something inappropriate, document it. Applicants might remember to make their social media pages look more professional, or simply block the public or friends of friends from viewing their pages. As such, it’s important to screenshot any problematic posts, pictures, or other social media-based material immediately.

LinkedIn is one of the best social media sites to screen on. While you’ll likely never find anything inappropriate there, you’re able to vet their credentials.