Well, it seems that just about everyone is on some social media site now. Or perhaps more than one. In some cases more than 10 or 20 social media sites. Worse than that, some people know nearly ALL of them and create their own even when hundreds already exist! And at the very end of the extreme, some people are eliminating and loosing every other part of their life in order to be on social media sites. Now I hope there is some balance in that scale and to find one, its important to know how social media sites can be dangerous and valuable at the same time and more importantly, consider how it might affect YOUR future while you use them today.
As a blogger I know that my readers are curious about me and the relationships and connections I’m been able to make with my readers reveals more and more about me. This is something that any online presence begins to reveal. Your social media profiles become visible and public is someone wants to know more about you and that is an important point to remember since anyone can use it. That includes your spouse, your friends, your boss, your x boyfriends/girlfriends, x spouses, colleagues, recruiters, interviewers, your church paster, your mom and dad, siblings, and ever other person who may or may not already have a relationship with you.
Do you really want to put that information out for all of those people? What about the fact that once it is on the internet, you can’t really control or limit where it goes from there. You might have friends who publish information and pictures about you that you don’t control directly. Do you want all those people listed above to see that type of content? What about as things change for you like your friends, your job and close relationships, do you want all that information you have up on your social media sites now to be available to all of them in the future as well? I know that most people I ask this question of say, "Heck, NO!". My question then is why do you not put a little more attention to protect your online profile now.
Valuable Uses of Social Media and Online Profiles
There is no doubt that social media is very useful and valuable for the participants in it. It is found by building connections and relationships in it. It provides many great benefits:
- Build connections and relationships with new people
- Share stories, pictures and information to further develop existing connections
- Explore and connect with people with similar interests as you
- Exposure of your product, skills or resources can be directly targeted to people with interest because of similar interest or a personal connection
- Joining and linking similar content online prevents the need to search for every piece of content individually
- Provides an easy media and set of tools for anyone to share information with others
- Opens many options to help others and is the basis of success for all social media rating systems
These are just a few examples of some of the valuable uses of social media. These are great ways to explore and expand your relationships and make it enjoyable to build your network. Having a view into others’ lives is somehow very intriguing to most people and it makes information that otherwise isn’t often shared when you first meet someone. I’m sure my regular readers know the things I have the most interest in, what some of my passions are and what I strive for in life. These are the things that should be the focus for people in life but traditionally are not the areas that we often share with others, even close friends and family. One really valuable use of social media sites and online profiles is that these are areas to reveal that really are useful to connecting to others. Putting out information about your beliefs, your goals and dreams is a great way to connect with people that doesn’t work so easily in person. I think the reason for this is because you have a much more massive audience to find similar people from than when you are meeting only a few people in person from week to week.
So, if you do use social media I encourage you to put up more meaningful information about your goals, dreams, desires, beliefs and share it willingly. It should be genuine and you should only do this if you want to connect using these things. Have confidence in your profile and be willing and happy to share it with anyone you could possible know or meet.
Dangerous Social Media
Since your information is public (at least public within your connected friends even if you use privacy) you need to be aware of some of the dangers of social media as well. There are many and it has everything to do with your image, reputation and integrity as a person in ALL of your relationships. Does everyone you know see a consistent image of you? Is there content you would keep separately from work or personal time? What about the content for close friends and family versus that for a new found friend or someone you’ve just met? What sort of personality and characteristics do you portray in your online profile? Do you have any colleagues in your friend lists and can they see your portfolio? Do you really want them to see it and share what they see? All these questions you should be absolutely comfortable with when it comes to your online image. If any of these are perhaps risky or questionable based on who sees it, then it doesn’t belong online in your portfolio and you have some work to do to clean it up.
Social media sites are nearly all indexed by search engines and as they people more and more popular, there are search engines and methods available specifically for finding out information about people. What a lot of people don’t know about this, is that employers definitely use search engines and social media sites to find out whatever they can about potential candidates for new positions. I can assure you that I use them. So do recruiters, other family members, your past friends and anyone else you can think of. Anyone can use them and find your information so its critical you understand what’s online to be find and that the social media sites portray an image of you that you WANT to be found. Many people who have their pictures of themselves at drinking nights and parties or giving ‘innapropriate’ gifts and comments and content should think twice about the image that portrays.
Social Media Future
Social media is likely to continue growing, and it will become more and more connected with our lives. There is a strange obsession for people to connect their sites with their continually updating info so much to the point that in the future, I suspect our social media sites will auto update with our positions (some of this is already happening), our buying of things, pictures we take, others we interact with, pets, family, etc all connected to their online portfolio. This connectivity makes each person more and more transparent and it definitely makes it harder to disconnect your personal and work lives since they will be the same online. This is a critical shift for people to know and to consider that everything they put online is available in the future and growing. There is certainly more to come and the nature of the web with archiving and histories, you can’t erase things once they are available. So, what do you have online you want to stay there in the future and what will you be portraying in your online portfolio?
All I can suggest is that it is important to protect your social media presence and portray the person you are and want to share with the world.
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