To Post, or Not to Post: Growing Up with Social Media

Soc MedWelcome to Her Brand DNA‘s 1st post, where I’m diving head first into a topic that continues to have a major effect on our personal brands, for better or for worse. Social media, we all think we know it inside and out, but do we really?
I often think of social media as the friend you went to school with since elementary, you know, school friends…but not really “outside” friends. Get me? I say this because I find that students in college today, and even those who’ve graduated up to four years ago, have sort of grown up with social media. In most cases, you become extremely social beyond your family and neighborhood friends when you enter high school, and I find that around that time is when Myspace was making it’s big boom in my generation’s time. It was like another world, a world I’d spend countless hours in day in, and in so many instances, OUT. It turned into my extracurricular activity, my hobby, my free time life. It became a normal part of my routine, you know, like brushing my teeth or something.  Thinking back to my 6 year old profile to date, my statuses were about any and every little thing I was doing, but at the time it didn’t seem like a big deal because your “friends” were normally people you actually knew in real life, with the “Top 8” putting them on a pedestal.

myspacetop8

The idea of social networking didn’t quite make sense to my 16 year old self since it was all so new, but as I began “friending” public figures that I’d always admired, I realized I had something going. Myspace is actually where I started my quest to the Tyra Banks Show, and since I saw Myspace as MY space, I didn’t consider revising my sometimes “too grown” statuses and plays on sexy song titles that I thought made me seem grown up and sexy–this is why parents need to watch their kids online. Many times, I’d have an aunt or two questioning the meaning of my latest status, and as annoyed as I was for them “being in mybusiness”, they were doing what today’s employers sure won’t do before they look past you for an opportunity.

Let’s fast forward to today’s social media fiesta. There are so many players at the party, and with the self proclaimed social media “pros” that grew up with it by their side but didn’t get the auntie inquiries, they are having a harder time figuring out what’s appropriate to post online and what to save for their diary or BFFs. Or in some cases, they don’t care to know. Building a brand is a continuous effort that must be tended to regularly and the integrity must always remain. This means leave the PERSONAL personal stuff at home. The world (and most importantly, a prospective employer) doesn’t need to see a post about what your favorite sex position is (yes, I’ve seen young women post this), or a post about how much you hate your ex. I understand ladies, it hurts, but that’s what BFFs are for! Talk their ears off and save yourself from the loss of a great opportunity in the process. Did you know that now an estimated 37% of employers check potential employees’ social media accounts during the hiring process? It’s true, they check to see if you conduct yourself professionally on a normal basis, if you are really as well rounded as you may have claimed on the application, andof course to see if you fit in with the culture of the company. So, “venting” on social media is not worth losing the opportunity of a lifetime. This is food for thought, and it’s not easy to change your “I need to post everything” ways overnight because it’s the way you’ve operated for so long, but it takes continued effort. Hey, I’m still a work in progress! Since this is true, I’m going to give you a few tips that have helped me have more discretion as to what I post on social media and what stays a thought or gets belted out to the nearest friend…

*First of all, leave the profanity out of the picture altogether. Once, a business professional once stated that she doesn’t even consider getting to “know” people on social media who have their feeds littered with a bunch of bad words.

1. If you have to hesitate, even for a half of a second, whether or not you should post what it is that you are thinking, do NOT post it. We actually look out for ourselves more than we think, but still go ahead and do it anyway. Hesitation to post is never a good sign as it pertains to social media.

2. Think before you post, even if you don’t hesitate doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to post. Does what you are about to say line up with what your brand message is? Will it be totally irrelevant to your audience? If you alienate your audience by posting things that don’t “fit” with your normal “voice”, it will be very noticable to your followers and don’t be surprised if they think you account got hacked. Ex. If you are always professional on your accounts and regularly post about your industry of choice, btut then you get on one day and vent away about how “effed up” life is that day and use language you don’t normally use, it will catch your audience off guard and possibly make them give you a side eye….and we don’t like those.

3. Write it out and reREread it. Sometimes we just have to write out what we are thinking, but before you hit the send button,  take two looks at it. If it seems that it could be taken out of the context in which you intended, chances are it will.

So, before your next “OMG, I’m about to go INNNNNNN subtweet style” rant, think about these points and practice using them so that it becomes a habit to check yourself before you wreck yourself….your brand.

Let me know how it goes and if these tips worked for you!

Always branding,
Sharontina & Her Brand DNA

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