Social Media – Friend or Foe?

This post was written by Career & Leadership Development staff Nicole Golden and Jan Bilgen.

For each of us, social media technologies create a number of opportunities to share, foster, learn and connect. With each opportunity there is a chance you might enhance your life or complicate it. Here are a few suggestions to insure that your social media interactions enhance your personal and professional life.

Social Media

No matter what, once it’s out there you can never take it back

Just because Facebook has a delete option on your posts and comments or on pictures doesn’t make it 100% true. Anything on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. can be downloaded, or emailed around to any number of others or sites. Think of all the great and witty tweets or posts you’ve seen and how they’ve gone viral. What if that was a picture of you doing something questionable? Or a post or comment that was hurtful? Written in anger? Think twice before posting. Ask yourself, what do I hope to “add” to my presence on social media with this?

Consider multiple profiles

Separation isn’t always as a bad thing. If you don’t want to edit your statuses or think too hard before you click, consider having multiple profiles. Be very sure that those you “friend” or “follow” on each of those profiles should be there. I have a professional Twitter account where I only tweet work-related items of interest. LinkedIn connections that you accept should only be professional contacts if you choose to follow this approach. Because social media is an amazing tool to connect, most people start with friends and then blend in business connections, but consider the opposite. Seek professional connections first.  Starting a professional “profile” on a social media outlets will not only let you create your personal brand it will let you protect it.

Don’t let social media replace face to face connections

In today’s world, it is much too easy to only connect and communicate with people via social media. However, it requires technical interest and resources so might not be everyone’s first choice in connecting. Social media contacts should broaden in number and in quality your relationships. Relationships must have direct connections in order to be improved and maintained. That means face to face opportunities, phone calls, Skype, etc. in addition to what you are posting and tweeting. In order to have impact on what others perceive about you, you must be able to interpret their non-verbals and have a higher chance of being understood.

Know that social media (i.e Facebook and Twitter) can be huge time drains and drama vortex

Time seems to slip away if you’re plugged in 100% all the time. Being too “plugged-in” can hurt the task at hand, like homework or work in general. You may seem distracted to those you are around and is seldom positive multitasking. Use of social media can also impact your friendships in a negative way. It oftentimes is a method that individuals use to drag others into their problems or arguments. They also use it in a passive aggressive manner. Beef with something? Find a non-social media way to vent or clear the air of frustration- talk in person.

Remember, social media was created to connect and make the world more open and connected. According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, “We hope to strengthen how people relate to each other and even if our mission sounds big, it starts small — with the relationship between two people.” So take a minute before you click, post and celebrate and make those relationships strong and productive!

Photo by Yoel Ben-Avraham.