From what I’ve learned so far, Twitter is what you want to make out of it. You can use it as a news source – even though it’s probably just as convenient to check out resources like the New York Times “Morning Briefing.” (for example, check out today’s: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/02/nytnow/latest-news-china-ship-spying-bill-and-more.html.) Secondly, you can use Twitter as a platform for voicing your opinions and spreading activism – even though there are other methods just as or more effective.
In this post, I want to tackle to question of Twitter as public image. Is Twitter also what you make out of it in terms of today’s ever-connected online network?
The answer is yes, but the answer is more strongly no.
Consider the sub-questions. Do I need to have a Twitter? Absolutely not. Do I need to have a Twitter to make people like me? Absolutely not! Do I need to have a Twitter to make an employer like me? Still, no. Can I completely screw around on the Internet and expect it to have no consequences? Yes!
Just kidding. There are definite consequences to online activity, especially for the modern job-hunt. Look at this:
- Child Savage is my persona onstage – I’m a singer-songwriter. But is Child Savage who I want to be on Twitter? If that was my choice, fine, but I really don’t think that Child Savage has anything to gain from Twitter as far as promotion or name recognition. Maybe when I’m raking in the millions, I can have a verified Twitter account under Child Savage. But for now, it’s just not a consistent approach: my profile photo is not representative of my music, and the header photo only tells the viewer that I doodle sometimes…and even that thought would be inaccurate, since the sketch of my stage name was done years ago by a friend of mine, Daliah Ammar (check out her amazing artwork and PROFESSIONAL WEBSITE: http://daliahammar.com/) Furthermore, my tweets are entirely about other aspects of my life, like Death of a Salesman and my tutoring job in the Writing Center.
- Speaking of those tweets, the biggest problem with them is that they are minuscule in number…. 9 TWEETS?? I’VE HAD THE THING SINCE NOVEMBER! Anyone looking at this page knows I don’t give a hoot about the entire institution.
- Even if a person looking at my page – and keep in mind that the person we’re talking about is a potential employer, or reference, or simply someone I want to impress – decides to ignore my sparse tweeting habits, I don’t think they’d be able to look past the uninspired content. I mean, come on – the latest thing I did was re-tweet my dad. 5 out of 9 tweets are simple re-tweets. What does this tell my future boss? If they’re as hyper-critical as I am, they probably now think that I am unoriginal
How do I fix this? A lot comes down to examining my goals. Really questioning myself about what i want to get out of Twitter. Despite my cynicism, I truly do want to be involved in this online world. I want to be connected. Personally, a lot of the jobs that I currently possess/want to attain, rely heavily on my ability to dive into social media in an impactful way. So I’m going to do some revision, and show that I’m capable and willing to be that person.
Here’s what it looks like now that I’ve made some changes:
- Obviously, I fixed the whole name debacle and updated my profile picture.
- Twitter is an opportunity to add to your resume – my “about me section” now tells the viewer where I go to school, a few things I’m involved in, and still is “funny” and “personable.” I’ve also changed the link from Child Savage’s Facebook page to my personal writing blog.
- The header photo is specific to me – sitting around with the cast of Death of a Salesman during our first reading of the script.
The most important change that needs to happen is that I need to start using Twitter. Once I do, the re-tweeting problem can be fixed – for example, if someone posts an interesting article, it’s helpful to actually NOT re-tweet it, but instead post the article again along with my own original thoughts.
The solution and end result should not be soul-crushing. Don’t try to look like the model employee – it comes across as a “try-hard.” Keep personality in there and be daring, be different….but again, also be careful.
These choices are all personal. Everyone has a public image to maintain, and everyone performs different kinds of maintenance. It’s just important to keep in mind the increasing amount of judgment that’s going to come your way based off of what you put online.
The same is true across all forms of social media. Let’s take a break from the Twitter-sphere (phew) and look at some general guidelines across different platforms.
My following advice is not mine at all, but based of off a presentation given at an event hosted by the Women’s Leadership Initiative at SJU (Check out our Facebook page and like it! https://www.facebook.com/SJUWLI?fref=ts). The presentation was given by Dr. Jenny Spinner, and I found it so extremely valuable that I had to include it in this post. Dr. Spinner, instead of telling us everything we shouldn’t be doing, entitled her presentation the “Dos of Social Media.” The following are those guidelines in a list form. Enjoy!
- Do a self-assessment. This is exactly what I’ve been recommending: take some time this summer to look over your accounts, and ask yourself what the public is seeing, and if that is what you want them to see. Am I okay with what I’m showing? Is this part of the image I want to portray?
- Do know what is public and private. If you want your Facebook to be a personal page and not a professional networking account, make sure that it still reflects a positive image! A great feature that Facebook now has is the “View As” tool, where you can check and make sure exactly what people who are not your friends are going to see if they find your page.Again, there’s basically two options here – making some select things public so there is an intentional look and feel to your Facebook if someone searches for you, or making everything private. The second way, people know it’s an intentional choice to keep your profile closed down except to your friends. I like the first option, since it combines a level of professionalism with the personal nature of Facebook. With my own Facebook account, I choose to make public certain things that I want people to see, and keep private the ones that are personal. That way, people can look at my Facebook page to get a sense of my interests and personality, but without knowing everything that I put online.
- Do be aware that it is impossible to be anonymous. Every online activity leaves a trace.
- Do brand across platforms. If you’re choosing to use the internet as a way to create a professional appearance, make sure that you’re keeping it consistent. Keep your name the same across Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn – for example, I include my middle initial. It’s sometimes a good idea to even keep your profile picture consistent and recognizable.
- Do write well. As an English major myself, I can’t stress this enough! I know tweets are short…but seriously, even if you’re using “u” and “ur,” please make sure that the commas are in the right place? Please? (Watch John Green, the author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” talk about some celebrity grammar slip-ups here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTwCCrMRTxE).
- Do keep track of your friends, followers, and comments. For example, it might be a bad idea to follow The Illuminati on Twitter. People looking at your profile can see who you follow. Be careful with comments on Facebook, too. Even if you think it’s private, it may not be.
- Do take advantage of the community. Use Twitter to tell people what you’re doing professionally! Tag your peers and professors, and grow, grow, grow that network!
- Do understand science. What?? Yes, there is actual science behind Twitter and Facebook. The best time to post on Facebook is noon on a Saturday. For Twitter, it’s 5 P.M. Wednesday. And it’s better to space out your posts – no more than two a day.
- Do pay attention to horror stories. And by horror stories, I mean the guy who made the picture of him shotgunning a beer his profile pic, and then got turned down for a job ten years later because of it. Be freaking careful, people! For example, Topsy.com is a resource that archives every single tweet ever made, which you can search. And if you can search it, so can everyone else. There’s also a site called “Wayback” that archives websites.
- Okay, this is the only DON’T. DON’T MAKE ANYONE CRY. Not just for professional reasons. Be a decent human being to the other human beings on the planet.
- Do be on it. My favorite quote from Dr. Spinner is that “Twitter doesn’t have to be base.” It doesn’t have to be selfies and pictures of food and re-tweets from SJU Crushes. It can be smart, academic, influential! It’s the wave of the future, or whatever, but the wave is controlled by each and every single one of us.\
(One side note – do be on LinkedIn, if you’re not already. It’s really a great networking opportunity – there’s groups like the “Saint Joseph’s University Hawk Career Network” that can really boost your chances of interacting with professionals looking to hire!)
So, I hope you found this post informative and helpful, and maybe different from what you’ve heard before. Social media is exciting, and you have all kinds of options to play with. Play with them this summer, and come back to school for the fall with a fresh new professional look.