Remember that awesome party from sophomore year of college? Not so much? Well, Facebook remembers. As we transition from college students to graduate students to professionals, the way we portray ourselves in the online world can have significant impact on the trajectory or our careers.
While almost everyone utilizes some type of social media, and a presence on the internet is a positive thing, the content can either benefit or work against you when viewed by colleagues. As you gain more professional friendships and acquaintances, it is always a good idea to review your social media presence and determine if the image you are projecting is an accurate representation of who you are.
Knowing the right type of content to post on each platform is imperative to maintaining professional relationships and protecting your reputation.
Facebook: Think of Facebook like the backyard BBQ of social media. This is where you share family photos, videos of your dog chasing a squirrel, a recipe that you made last night, etc. The people seeing what you post on Facebook should be personal friends and family. Sometimes your work peers become your personal friends, so should you befriend them on Facebook? Well that depends, are they in a position of authority? Would you be embarrassed or could you get in trouble based on a post (even if it is from several years ago)?
What about building a reputation in the community? If you’re in a practice that is utilizing Facebook for marketing purposes, and your face is visible to patients or the community, it may be smart to create an additional profile for professional purposes only. This is an opportunity for you to reach out and participate in the Facebook community with less risk of exposing your privacy (or embarrassing photos from 10 years ago).
Twitter: Twitter is a huge platform to communicate information, and although you’re limited a just a few characters, what you type can say a lot about you. If you are using Twitter professionally, make sure you keep your tweets professional. This account is not the one to discuss what happened on last night’s episode of The Bachelor, or angrily tweet at the airlines for a delayed flight. Oftentimes, professional networking events will encourage and even host competitions for tweeting, and this is potentially an opportunity for you to really stand out (in a good or bad way).
LinkedIn: It is pretty well-accepted that LinkedIn is the place for professional social networking. Should you have a LinkedIn profile? Absolutely! This is a great way for you to share articles, find information, and build your network of peers without the fear of your weekend activities being broadcast to all your connections.
There are obviously many other avenues of social media today, Instagram, Snapchat, and even things like Pinterest and Musically. If you are applying for a job, you should definitely assume that your potential employer is looking at your social media footprint, and an innocent photo from ages ago can portray an entirely different message to a stranger. If you have to question it, delete it.
Social Media is great way to share information with others, keep up with our friend’s busy lives, and show off all the awesome things you are doing- just make sure you are communicating the right message to the right people!