Monday, November 25, 2013

Living a Full Life on Social Media

At a panel discussion I attended earlier this year, a successful entrepreneur was asked what he does and does not want to see in a job applicant's Facebook page. His answer surprised us all: he doesn't care.  "We all live full lives outside of work," he said. "And I expect that my employees do as well. What's important is that they do their jobs."

At first, that statement might seem a little crazy. After all, most experts will tell you that posting photos of drinking with friends will convey to a potential employer that you're more into partying than working. Even if all your photos were taken at one party, employers will worry: if he can't present himself professionally on social media, how will he represent the company in "real life"?

These are legitimate concerns, and most of us manage our social media pages to reflect who we are and how we want to be perceived. But the reality is that as social media continues to grow, these "red flags" will become harder to find. Every second, our uncensored thoughts are shared with people on social media around the world and become trends that attract marketers and advertisers. A controversial performance at the MTV Music Video awards this year not only raised the profile of Miley Cyrus, but also led to one of the nation's most respected actors, Morgan Freeman, reading a definition of "twerking" on TV. Whether it's a Facebook Town Hall led by the President, or a "new language" of Twitter hashtags, the evidence is clear: social media has become a way to promote our original thoughts, publicize our "compelling" lives, and share our "funny" stories with millions of people around the world. And with all of us competing for followers, friends, and retweets, we'll all inevitably say something "cool" that we regret.

So is engaging in social media a risk worth taking? I'd say yes. Just remember what Taylor Swift once said: "All of my favorite people - people I really trust - none of them were cool in their younger years." Which reminds me: hey, @taylorswift13, can I get an RT?

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