I am in the midst of becoming a real person, and the transition is something I’m aware of on a daily basis. (If you aren’t familiar with my definition of a real person, check out my previous blog post) One of the most obvious transitions on this road to life as a real person is the change in how I use social media.
Facebook and Twitter became very popular when I was in high school. These social media sites were places for everyone to publicize their personal lives. It was fun and exciting to post photos of you and your best friends on the beach, at parties, on Saturday night adventures to Berkeley and then crowd around your phones to tally up how many likes, favorites and retweets you got.
Readers, I can’t even begin tell you how guilty I was of posting Facebook statuses in middle school and high school that said something along the lines of “I want chocolate chip pancakes” or “My trip to the beach ended in a sunburn.” Yes, chocolate chip pancakes are awesome and sunburns suck, but does everyone really need to know about it? More importantly, do they even care? Both of those answers are no.
One of the first epiphanies I had during the early stages of my transition to a real person was that I needed to de-personalize my social media use.
Not de-personalize in the sense that I need to be boring. I mean de-personalize in the sense that not all of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers need to be told every single time I want pancakes or that I got sunburned.
As I come closer and closer to the day I graduate college, I am learning more about how to transition my social media use to be both professional and personal. And for the personal things that I do post, what amount of personal is okay. This balance between professional and personal is essential for other PR students in my position.
The goal is to participate in conversation and post relevant content, but sometimes it’s just nice to share what TV show you’re watching or the lovely care package your mom sent you during finals week. When professionals are looking to hire, yes they want someone who is engaged in the professional conversation on social media, but also someone with interests and a personality that will fit into the culture of their work environment.
The personal aspect of social media is just as important as the professional, but it’s essential that you know the boundaries. CKSyme Media Group posted a great infographic that outlines the do’s and don’ts of what to post on social media and how doing social media incorrectly can cost you a job.
I vividly remember my parents saying, “Your whole life does not need to be on Facebook, your employers will look you up before they hire you!” This is one of those times when my parents were 100% right. A drunken photo on Facebook or an awkwardly personal tweet about a doctor’s appointment can cost you your job.
So, for us soon-to-be graduates, remember that even though it may be fun to share parts of your life on social media, a weirdly personal photo or tweet isn’t worth your job (or the job you weren’t hired for because of it).