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Friday, January 29, 2010

Social Media and Self Preservation

The choice is yours: ride the train or be squarely positioned on the tracks as it comes barreling by. That's how I feel about social media. Social networking is ubiquitous. It enables us to be "uber" connected with others in a way that transcends any other form of media.

You can't see me blushing, but the truth is that I just created my Facebook profile a month ago. One of my initial observations was the role that social media plays in employment - both from a "push" and a "pull" perspective. Companies use social media as marketing and branding tools. Individuals use social media as networking and job search tools. Employers use social media as a recruitment tool.

So I told myself what I told my daughter when we bought her a cell phone and signed up for unlimited text messaging: "Don't send anything in a text message that you would be embarrassed to let me read." My general guidelines for using social media aren't that much different: whatever we write should be at best, thought provoking but not provocative; and at worst, ordinary and innocuous.

The way we present ourselves on a social networking site is, in effect, our "brand." If I look at someone's profile, I get a virtual video of who they are, simply by looking at pictures, comments, personal information, writing style, and how they spend their time. That's when I became aware of simulation games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars. I haven't played them, but I can't begin to count the number of white mystery eggs that my Facebook "friends" have discovered on their farms. Some of my friends are animal lovers, too - like my friend Susan, who extricated a purple sea horse from a tangled mess of kelp. I'm flummoxed by how much time people appear to spend playing these games. And while Tony Soprano may give you props for earning amethyst cuff links in Mafia Wars, I'm underwhelmed. As for me, I've achieved gold medal status playing ping pong on the Wii. Don't misunderstand me. I'm proud of this (largely because it's my primary form of exercise). But you'll never see it on my Facebook wall.

To my point: be cautious about what you reveal to your friends (and the friends of your friends). It's easier to avoid the pitfalls of "TMI" with business-oriented networking sites like LinkedIn. But if you're using a site like Facebook, muster up a little restraint. I leave you with my own tips for protecting "brand you":

1. Learn how to use the privacy settings for your profile. The privacy settings in Facebook allow you to control who can see your profile, who can post to your wall, and who can see your search results in Facebook and on search engines. You also have the ability to block specific people from interacting with you on Facebook.

2. Give serious consideration to what type of information and how much detail you're willing to share. Do you want to share your political views? I'm not suggesting you shouldn't - just that you should carefully consider every piece of personal information that will become public.

3. What about that photo of you from spring break in Cancun? You get the picture. Don't post any photos that even hint at being inappropriate.

4. Avoid using Facebook while you're on the clock at work! I'm often amazed at notifications of friends' activities during times when they are clearly at work - and it's not even lunchtime.

5. Avoid mixing friends and business associates. Decide how you want to use the site - as a means of connecting with family and friends, or connecting with business associates.

I don't doubt that employers and recruiters use social networking sites to vet potential employees. Your profile may only be visible to friends and friends of friends, but people are pretty resourceful.

There's a lot to learn - check out the Holy Grail of Facebook Privacy.

In the meantime, I'm keeping a low "profile" and staying out of FarmVille. That is, until a friend notifies me that it's time to harvest a real money tree.

Authored by Sandy Turba

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2 Comments:

Blogger Stephen said...

Excellent article, and very timely. I've posted it to my own fb page, in the interest of reminding everyone of such good advice.

P.S. This comment was posted during non-work hours!

Stephen Dodd (Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis)

February 6, 2010 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

Hi

Tks very much for post:

I like it and hope that you continue posting.

Let me show other source that may be good for community.

Source: Payroll manager job description

Best rgs
David

August 21, 2011 at 8:52 AM  

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