How Social Media May Affect Your Future
Last updated on : April 06 2020
Social Media Is A Big Deal
Participating online is no longer optional but rather an intricate part of our everyday lives.
From using Facebook to update our friends and family to our latest look on Instagram - social media is a big deal and keeps getting bigger.
It gives us a voice to share our worldviews, opinions, and beliefs. It connects us, strengthens us, and is a dominant source of information. It puts the world at our fingertips - literally.
Through social media, we have conversations with strangers, discover celebrities' latest bodycon dress styles, find lovers, and unite with other fans of our favorite teams, and sometimes it questions our self-esteem.
The Dangers Of Getting It Wrong
The Risk To Your Employment And Career
As social media continues to evolve, it becomes a go-to source for many professional organizations.
College administrators and human resource departments scan profiles of applicants before onboarding, and the precedent continues to make huge impacts.
Studies show that 31 percent of employers screen applicants using social media, and 21 percent are looking for reasons not to hire you.
The National Labor Relations Board has ruled on various cases involving employee conduct on social media. Employees have been fired, demoted, or removed from departments as a result of their online presence, shares, and posts.
So we must ask the question of what is appropriate to post, share, and follow on your profiles.
How To Use Social Media Responsibly
To help you navigate the evolving world of social media, we reached out to influencers for insights into the question below:
How do you balance your social media presence with your personal and professional life?
Click on a link to read their detailed response, or read the summary just below.
Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist, Canva
- Tom Pick, Digital Marketing Consultant, Webbiquity
- Jonathan Rick, President, The Jonathan Rick Group
- Michelle D'Attilio, CEO, SOSH
- Charleh Dickinson, Social Media Manager & Trainer, KUB Business Growth
- Pascal Fintoni, Online Reputation Expert, Pascal Fintoni
- David Meerman Scott, Marketing Strategist and Bestselling Author of 10 books including The New Rules of Marketing and PR
- Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, Acting CMO Brand Innovators, Ted Rubin
- Paul Gillin, B2B Social Media Strategist, Paul Gillin Communications
- Brett Farmiloe, Founder, Markitors
- Liz Jostes, Co-Owner, Eli Rose Social Media, LLC
- Mel Carson, Founder & Principal Strategist, Delightful Communications
- Walter Akana, Personal Brand, and Online Identity Strategist, Success Reimagined
- Julia Bramble, Social Media Strategist and Business Growth Advisor, Bramble Buzz
Follow this advice to find a balance between personal and professional, rather than building a wall between the two.
- Be yourself. Your social media presence appeals most if you are authentic, vulnerable, and a great storyteller. Say what you stand for and aim to connect emotionally with people online - whether they are personal or professional friends.
- You don’t have to share every thought that pops into your mind; they’re not all winners. Resist the temptation to publish every pic you snap.
- Don't be dishonest, but share the best of your life, the images you want the world to have of you. None of us are perfect, and there is no need to broadcast all our imperfections.
- Understand that, in most cases, social means public, so be thoughtful about what you post. What you post on the internet is permanent and can quickly spread to other users besides your followers.
- Never post anything that you wouldn't want your spouse/parents/kids/boss/pastor to see.
- Never post in anger. Never use social media when drunk or under the influence, ever.
- Be careful who you friend. That guy you met at a happy hour years ago, who later friended you but with whom you haven’t spoken? Remember: not only can he download or screenshot that embarrassing pic, but he also can then self-publish it or feed it to a reporter.
- If you're younger and just starting, be professional and careful to make sure that your social media presence matches your end goal. If the end goal is a specific job or client, then be diplomatic, well-spoken, and creative.
- As one gets older or becomes more accomplished, it's ok to drop some diplomacy and trade it for a bit of provocativeness, while remaining well-spoken.
- The bottom line. Exercise common sense as to what you put out there. You don’t want to self-censor yourself into a straightjacket, but you don’t have to publish every thought that comes into your head.
- Think before posting anything – what is your goal by sharing or commenting on an article or image? Remember its public, so try and make the very best impression.
- Avoid highly charged issues like politics or religion because you can make enemies by taking a public position.
- If you are someone who needs to express controversial opinions that may affect your business, then find a friend and tell them in person instead. That way, you know you're not putting your job on the line.
- Learn the privacy settings for each platform you use so that you know who has access to your content.
- Make sure to respect the essential attributes of each platform. For example, selfie lenses work well on Snapchat but could be off-putting on Facebook. Instagram is for interesting photos that are brand relevant; it's not for pictures of quotes or text.
- You don't need a gazillion hashtags. Instead, find the handful that works for you and your style. Finally, pay attention to the likes and comments you’re getting and make adjustments to your overall approach.
The Social Media Influencers We Polled
Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist, Canva
“Assuming that people will understand, for example, that Facebook is for friends and family, and LinkedIn is for your career is stupid. Every profile and presence is professional. Yes, I am saying that you should take the social out of social media for your career."
Tom Pick, Digital Marketing Consultant, Webbiquity
“The stories of marriages, careers, and reputations wrecked by thoughtless or drunken social media updates haven't been lost on today's teens and young adults. Neither has the reality of the worst job market in decades for those just coming out of school.
When I talk to my millennial kids and their friends, I'm struck by their maturity on these subjects and their impressive level of sophistication about online privacy and security. That's a big part of what's driving the growth of sites like Snapchat, which now has more daily users than Twitter. And there is zero trust in Facebook.
The best advice remains never to post anything that you wouldn't if "your spouse/parents/kids/boss/pastor" were looking over your shoulder. Never tweet/post/comment/update in anger. Never use social media when drunk or under the influence--ever.
We've not quite reached the world described in Damon Knight's 1976 short story "I See You," In this world, a device is invented that lets anyone see what anyone else is doing, eliminating all personal privacy and government secrets. But we're on that path.
So "tips and tricks"? Keep current on technology. But understand that in most cases, social means public. Don't be dishonest, but share the best of your life, the image you'd like the world to have of you. None of us are perfect. But our imperfections don't need to broadcast.”
Jonathan Rick, President, The Jonathan Rick Group
“Social media has made privacy an antiquated notion. To be sure, each channel offers various privacy settings, which it behooves you to use. But these settings can be bewildering, and mistakes happen.
I promise you: you won’t be the first person in history to publicize what you meant to be private accidentally just as you won’t be the first person to get hacked—the bottom line: exercise common sense as to what you put out there. You don’t want to self-censor yourself into a straightjacket, but you don’t have to publish every thought that comes into your head.
Consider the top 10 results that appear when you Google your name. What if one of those links is your Facebook page, which, when clicked, reveals a pic of you at a keg stand in college? As soon as a potential employer sees this, you’ll be out of the running. And not because keg stands are wrong, but because if you treat your own life with such casual disregard, how will you manage the information with which your clients and sources entrust you?
What’s worse, your rejection letter won’t say any of this. You could be the best candidate, and you’ll never know the real reason they never hired you.
So how do you decide what to share? There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy here. You don’t have to share every thought that pops into your mind; they’re not all winners. Resist the temptation to publish every pic you snap.
Be careful who you friend. That guy you met at a happy hour years ago, who later friended you but with whom you haven’t spoken? Remember: not only can he download or screenshot that embarrassing pic, but he also can then self-publish it or feed it to a reporter. Also remember: if a friend of yours gets hacked, the hacker has access to your content.
You may think these are overly restrictive, and they are. But remember: stories abound of people losing their job, of social media posts used as evidence in court, of people being denied a security clearance because of a bong-hit photo.”
Michelle D'Attilio, CEO, SOSH
“The balance shifts with age/accomplishments. Early on, it’s essential to be professional, being careful to make sure that your online presence matches your end goal. Is the end goal a specific job or client? Make sure to be diplomatic, well-spoken, and creative.
As one gets older or becomes more accomplished, I feel it is ok to drop some diplomacy and trade it for a bit of provocativeness, while remaining well-spoken.
At any step, you need to allow people to see a bit of your world. People want to feel like they know you. It’s not meant to be disingenuous but rather the opposite. People yearn for connection, and if you can allow them to feel the slightest bit of that connection, you’ve earned a fan for life. Whether that is a potential job, client, or consumer.”
Charleh Dickinson, Social Media Manager & Trainer, KUB Business Growth
"As a social media manager and trainer, it is hard to keep your professional and personal online media outputs separate, and the lines do blur. However, it isn't impossible.
I keep my Facebook page for my private posts, and everything else is business. However, in an open world where your customers, audiences, and clients want to know more than just your expertise and services, then being mindful of what you post on all your platforms is the way forward. You don't know who could be following you.
If you are someone who needs to express controversial opinions that may affect your business, then I would recommend finding a friend and telling them in person. That way, you know you're not putting your job on the line."
Pascal Fintoni, Online Reputation Expert, Pascal Fintoni
“This is a real challenge across all platforms for employees or business owners who are building a personal brand. What we do with our clients is to create a brand new private profile using a nickname or pseudonym only shared with close friends and family.
But the real art is in keeping that ‘secret’ personal profile from linking back to your professional accounts, so DO NOT add information about your employer or business, your hometown, your contact details. Cancel the geotagging on your photos and the hardest one: do not accept comments from colleagues.
Now you are free to enjoy your double life!”
David Meerman Scott, Marketing Strategist and Bestselling Author of 10 books including The New Rules of Marketing and PR
“You must be yourself and show your personality. It's just fine to mix your personal life and your professional life online because your business contacts love to know what you do on your own time.”
Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, Acting CMO Brand Innovators, Ted Rubin
“I believe there is no longer a wall separating personal and business. People in the industry want to know more about who everyone is, not just their business persona.
Here are three things that are important for anyone who wants to be successful in balancing their social media presence with their personal and professional style
- Be available as much as possible. It's certainly ok to set limits and guardrails, but the borders have shifted and blurred.
- Try to continually produce and curate content to attract those who don’t know you or may feel reluctant to reach out. Let your followers know who you are as a person, what's important to you, and what you believe personally, along with your business views and expertise.
- Be genuine, authentic, and open to conversation.
Paul Gillin, B2B Social Media Strategist, Paul Gillin Communications
“I don't make a distinction. I think my business relationships are more fruitful if people know something about me as a person.
I attempt to be measured and mature in all my social media activity because once you put something on the Internet, anybody is likely to see it. I also avoid highly charged issues like politics or religion because you can only make enemies by taking a public position.
if you're positive, constructive, and helpful, I don't see how you can get in any trouble blending your public and private personas.”
Brett Farmiloe, Founder, Markitors
“Two words: Privacy Settings. That's all you need to know when it comes to balancing an online presence with personal and professional style.
There are specific social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram) where the majority of people would prefer to keep their information private from employers. There are other platforms (LinkedIn and Twitter) where it's beneficial to share public information with employers to showcase your knowledge and experience.
Learn the privacy settings for each platform. Be conscious of the types of content you share on all platforms. Enjoy the balance of your personal and professional style on social media.”
Liz Jostes, Co-Owner, Eli Rose Social Media, LLC
“Social media is and will forever be a platform to be social with others and allow your personality to shine. Your posts should represent your character, thoughts, and beliefs while also keeping in mind that what you post on the internet is permanent (thanks to screenshots!) and can quickly be spread to other users besides your followers.
Also, search engines like Google favor social media profiles in search engine results, so recruiters looking you up on the internet have a high likelihood of quickly locating your profiles and recent posts.
The best thing to do is keep being you online, but do a quick double-check before you hit the 'post' button on anything you're going to publish.
When in doubt about what you are about to post, ask yourself this question: Would I be OK with my grandma reading this post? If the answer is No, then don't post it. It's just not worth it.”
Mel Carson, Founder & Principal Strategist, Delightful Communications
“I recommend people stick to a ratio. Mine is 60/40. 60 percent of what I talk about on social media will be professional (news, industry thoughts, etc.) and 40 percent will be personal (family, fun, food, etc.)
Technology and the gig economy blur the lines between professional and free time, so my recommendation to my branding clients is to think before posting anything. What is your goal by sharing or commenting on an article or an image? And remember it will be public, so try and make the very best impression.
Many people think they have to put on a “front” to be successful across social media and that’s not true. We encourage clients to think about their AURA. The content they create and share should be Authentic, Useful, Relevant, and Actionable. Always.
Walter Akana, Personal Brand, and Online Identity Strategist, Success Reimagined
“While it’s always a good idea to work on developing your brand, an effective way to start is to figure out what makes you uniquely you. You can then blend your particular quirkiness into your professional persona. By using your insights and feedback from others, you can determine themes that not only convey your best self but also connect emotionally with your colleagues, friends, and followers.
Make sure to respect the natural attributes of the media platform; for example, selfie lenses work well on Snapchat but could be off-putting on Facebook. Instagram is for interesting photos that are brand relevant; it's not for pictures of quotes or text.
You don't need a gazillion hashtags; instead, find the handful that works for you and your style. Finally, pay attention to the likes and comments you’re getting and make adjustments to your approach.”
Julia Bramble, Social Media Strategist and Business Growth Advisor, Bramble Buzz
“The online world is a very crowded and noisy place now. For anyone to notice your message, you need to stand out from the crowd. So being you, with an individual voice, is no longer quirky but essential.
Your online presence will appeal most if you can be authentic, vulnerable, and a great storyteller. Don’t be afraid to say what you stand for and aim to connect emotionally with people online.
Keep sensible boundaries, but be real.”
Frequently Asked Questions
How can Social Media affect you?
The emotional impact social media can have on an individual is enormous. It can and should be classified as an addiction.
A person will wake up in the morning, and the first thing they will do is check their social media accounts. Specific engagements such as likes and positive or negative feedback will determine the individual’s mood or headspace.
Also, with the constant and ever-growing advancement in technology, we, as like-minded individuals, always want (or need) to keep up to date with the latest trends. This leads to multiple social media accounts. Which in turn leads to a greater need for social acceptance.
Be it among friends or co-workers. It ultimately becomes a popularity contest even if it was never the intention. This craving or need for social acceptance can lead to anxiety and depression. One may also experience suicidal thoughts.
Can Social Media hurt your career?
Yes - it can. In today’s modern world, recruitment agents or job recruiters will do background checks on the prospective job applicant before deciding on whether the individual in question is fit for a particular position. This process is the vetting process.
So, the individual’s social media accounts will be viewed and scrutinized at length. If the individual is prominent on social media and has an open profile, then it will be easy to ascertain what kind of individual that person is in their personal life.
One can read a lot from an individual’s online profile. A prolific online presence can have both a positive and negative effect. Too much information will give away too much information about the said individual while opting for the “less is more” approach could seem like the individual is hiding something.
Also, once it is out on social media, it is effectively in the public domain - so it is difficult to withdraw posts that draw negative feedback.
How the information you post on social media can haunt you later in life?
The dark side of the internet and in particular of social media, is that nothing goes unnoticed. Once it is out in the public domain – it stays out in the public domain.
The keyboard critics are just waiting to pounce. The person/individual may think they have deleted it, but other users may have taken screenshots, and before they know it, their tweet or IG post has gone viral.
Once the individual has gone viral - they are never really forgotten and will have gained notoriety. The individual is tagged for life. Nowadays, hackers can be young or old. They will go to great lengths to ruin one’s life.
What are the adverse effects Social Media can have on your well-being?
In a way, the negatives out way the positives on social media. The individual can become obsessed with their feed, and this can lead to mood swings, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Also, the continuous posting of content and then the removal of that content because of lousy user engagement (not enough likes) can significantly affect one’s well-being.
Being popular on social media doesn’t always relate to real life. They may also retreat from public life and become a social hermit. The unfollowing or blocking action on some social media platforms almost signals the end of the world for that individual.
Influencers have also changed the social media norm. A common trend of the so-called social media influencer is to have become more business savvy (Paid Partnership), and some will even sell their soul for the advertising/punting of different products or (Gifted) presents.
One must always keep in mind the adage of “what you see is not always what you get” with social media in mind. Especially on social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook where the different filters and presets exude the perfect look and feel of one’s life or lifestyle.
How does Social Media affect the younger generation?
The advancement in social media can significantly affect the younger generation.
Most pre-teens have mobile phones these days for safety and security purposes. So, the younger generation has practically been born with touch screens phones or tablets in their hands.
Most schools will ban phones in class, but use tablets during the course. And while some social media accounts are banned or blocked - these tech-savvy kids always find a loophole. At break time, they get to use their own devices. Excuse the pun.
This means while their parents try and enforce screen-free days outside of school - for most of the school day - these students are online and have access to a search engine.
Pre-Pubescent scholars will believe pretty much everything they see online. And with the pressures that come with growing up and fitting in - social media can gravely affect the younger generation’s mental and physical well-being.
An even darker side of social media is online bullying, identity theft, catfishing, online grooming, and teen suicide. The younger generation can suffer significantly from these unwanted advances and constant harassment.
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