Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Social Media: A Balancing Act


Forbes.com says that your social media profile can make or break your next job opportunity. As if there weren't enough obstacles already out there in today's job market?

Social media is huge. And unavoidable. I might not go so far as to call it a "necessary" evil, but it's not going away, and professionals and professionals-to-be need to learn how to navigate the terrain.

The tricky thing about social media is its dual nature, how it jockeys back and forth between our professional lives to our personal lives.

For example, are you Facebook friends with any of your coworkers, past or present? (I am.) Do you have personal connections on LinkedIn? (I'm connected to my mom, among others.)

In these seemingly innocuous ways, social media blends together the personal and the professional -- two areas we are so often encouraged to keep separate. And for social media users, that can make things uncomfortable.

Recently, I've seen friends creating secondary Facebook accounts for their "business" persona to combat this very overlap. I guess that's one solution. But does anyone else find the concept of keeping up dual personal and professional social media profiles somewhat completely exhausting? I have trouble keeping up with all of my profiles as it is.

The whole dilemma is even more confusing for those in my field, communications. Social media is often part of our jobs -- I'm on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and more daily for my job. For those of us in this position, it's a balancing act of using the media in such a way to develop marketable skills, while not using it in a way that could be professionally damaging.

I've always been very careful about what I post online just as a matter of common sense. And probably a little bit of paranoia. But that's hardly helpful as far as advice goes.

What's your "rule" for your social media profiles? How do you balance the professional and the personal when it comes to interacting online?


(image credit: onbile)

4 comments:

  1. My 21 year old son and I were having a conversation about this recently. He brought up the idea that having 2 Facebook accounts may appear to prospective employers as though you have something to hide. (BTW, he is a junior in college with a Comm major and a journalism minor.) Yes, social media is getting a bit out of hand and exhausting! Thanks for stopping by my blog today--I appreciate your comment!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Pam! I agree with your son that having two accounts could actually be harmful instead of helpful. I personally would prefer to just represent myself appropriately among my main platforms. But to each his own, I suppose!

      One thing I didn't mention was that in addition to my own social media, I also handle the social media accounts for my company. Talk about exhausting!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  2. I got a job as a teacher at a middle school this year and had to go back through my Facebook profile and delete any student in the district I work in. Which was a challenge because I lead a high school youth group in that city. So many of those youth group students go to school in the district I am now employed in.

    I thought of creating another profile to stay in contact with my youth group students, but as you said the thought of that is exhausting.

    I have become more careful of what I post, and what I allow people to "tag" me in. I also have closed my profile so that people can't search for me. While this limits friends finding me, it also means employers or students can't find me either.

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    1. Oh gosh! Teaching makes the whole social media endeavor even more of a complicated mess. My husband is a teacher, and his students are constantly requesting his Facebook friendship. They don't understand that you just don't do that!

      I bet you've had to become so careful! I know the principal at my old high school wanted to start looking up applicant's Facebook profiles before offering them an interview. Online personas can be all someone has to judge if they don't know you personally.

      It sounds like you're being really smart about your social media profiles. I guess with the "perks" of things like Facebook, there's additional responsibility, too!

      Delete

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