When I have the opportunity to speak with college students – student-athletes, Greeks or graduate students – I am always curious which point of the presentation will resonate most. Of course, college students believe they already know everything they need to know about social media and assume they are “doing it right.” So when I use examples from their own profiles, posts which are embarrassingly bad, they do tend to perk up and realize they have room to improve their communication skills.
This week, I was so pleased to speak with student-athletes at Cal State San Marcos. Athletic and Club Sport athletes joined me to learn how they can use social media and communication to achieve their goals.
During the presentation, I pointed out that one’s reputation also stands upon the types of posts and things you like and the people you associate yourself with online. Some of the students have liked more than 1000 Facebook Pages. I cannot even fathom what these Pages are, but with a quick glance over many profiles, they are not Pages which work to build a good reputation.
We also discussed the accounts they were retweeting. When Twitter handles like @ReallyStonedPanda and @WeedReport pop up in someone’s news feed, it’s a clear indication that they enjoy the content these accounts produce. Retweeting them is associating yourself with them and their content. And as you can gather from these two examples, this type of association does not work to build a good reputation.
Wouldn’t we love to believe that it’s just college students who do not take care with what they like and who they retweet? Many seasoned professionals have room to improve their skills, as well. So in this week’s video, I mention a few social networks and what you need to take care of to maintain a positive profile and manage your reputation.
A quick breakdown:
Facebook – Be mindful of the Pages you like and the posts you like, comment on, and share. Make sure your “friends” are people you actually know.
Twitter – Take care with who you follow AND who follows you. You are associated with both. Double check the Twitter handle and content of the accounts you retweet.
Pinterest – Follow people and businesses who have good content and who are reputable. Repinning pictures which are linked to “spammy” sites is not a good practice.
LinkedIn – Accept invitations from people you know, have done business with and who add value to your contact base. Remember my advice from my networking video – You want to be able to connect the people in your network. Help them in their business so they will help you with yours. (You can also check out the blog post on networking, too.)
YouTube and Blog Comments – Often overlooked, your comments on blogs and videos says a lot about you. What videos are you watching? What types of blogs do you interact with? If they are controversial on any level, your interaction with them paints you in a negative light. Your comments are discoverable online.
Finally, please remember that NOTHING online is private. It doesn’t take much to learn about a person with a simple Google search and a bit of browsing through social sites. When the recruiter or admissions officer, the media or your colleagues take a tour of your online profile, what will they find? And what will the things you like and the people you associate with say about you?
Tell me in the comments if you are a person who is diligent about managing your reputation. Do you already take care with what you like and who you follow? What other things do you do to protect your brand? Share your advice in the comments! Thank you!
What a week for news in San Diego! There were three news stories which affected teens and university students this week, where social media played a heavy hand in getting “caught.”
Don’t set up meetings on Facebook.
Students at Abraxas, Mission Hills, Poway and Ramona high schools, and were able to buy narcotics, according to sheriff’s officials. The variety of drugs purchased included heroin, cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone and hydrocodone. Wow. That’s some pretty serious stuff for high school! Are you wondering how the authorities track some of these sales? You guessed it. Social Media. The students arranged many of the drug deals over social media.
I now know what Twerking is!
Before I saw this new report, I had no idea what “twerking” was. I’m not sure what to do with this knowledge, but I now know what this suggestive butt-shaking is all about. And this twerking story also revolves around social media. Scripps Ranch High School students found themselves in very hot water after one student decided to share a student-produced twerking video on YouTube. A few problems with that? The video was made on campus and with school equipment.
I say many, many, many times in my social media sessions, “Nothing is private.” That speaks to things you choose to record or allow others to record (and even things you didn’t know are being recorded). It certainly applies to the things you post online.
A series of bad decisions led to this video getting made and posted to YouTube. This is not only a “think before you tweet” lesson, but a “think before you do.” What purpose does any of this serve? How will college admissions officers judge this video, and the decision to be in the video? This is another example of a misguided use of social media, and decisions which will only hurt these students in the long run.
Train students to use social media responsibly.
Even at the college level, students made a poor choice this week when it came to posting photos on Instagram. Members of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority at CSU San Marcos posted photos of themselves dressed like Latina gang members. Apparently the photos were taken during a retreat.
A few things are disturbing, in addition to the blatant cultural disrespect. A friend of one of the Alpha Chi Omega members said, “We can’t nit-pick every little thing, because there’s a lot more worse things that could happen.” This tells me that many students might think this is “no big deal.” The other problem is that the news report ends with,
“A spokesperson for CSU San Marcos told 10News no disciplinary action will be taken against the sorority, but that extra diversity training will soon be offered to all students, especially incoming freshmen.”
Where is the social media training? These students will continue to do “stupid stuff” on social media if they are not taught the impact their actions have online. Yes, they need to be more culturally sensitive, however, they need to be more responsible with their communication via social media. I’ve spoken with fraternities and sororities who made similar mistakes on social networks and were disciplined by the university. Part of their requirement to lift sanctions? Learn how to use social media more positively and for better purposes.
These three news reports differ drastically in what actions occurred, however, what they all have in common is that our San Diego high school and university students have a grave misunderstanding of how social media can work against you when you do not behave responsibly online. I’m sure all of these students thought that they wouldn’t get caught, either. And that’s a behavior that’s even more disturbing. Our young adults need to understand that what they do online is just as serious and just as REAL as what they do offline. Behaving badly online is not something you can get away with. Your actions in both realities will catch up to you. I’d like to see more of our students truly understand that.
There is no question that social media has revolutionized the way we communicate. For any of us old enough to remember when cell phones became more readily available, or when e-mail etiquette manuals were being passed around (ALL CAPS MEANS YOU ARE SHOUTING), or even when we hovered around a computer in the office in the early ’90s searching via Netscape Navigator to see what we could find on the internet, we know that social media is an evolving medium.
For better or worse, social media has allowed us to share as many tiny details about our lives as we so choose to share. It has allowed brands to personally converse with fans and loyal customers. You can probably think of a few friends or people you follow, who seem to share just the perfect mix of personal insights, news and fun information. You can probably think of a few friends who share way too much information. And then there’s the few who make us wonder why they’ve opened an account at all.
For those who take the time to understand how social media works, how each platform delivers information and to what audience, you have an amazing opportunity to control what people know about you, and your personal reputation.
And that’s the thing. Much like the word of a member of high society in the Victorian era, our reputations rest on the information that is out there, floating about society. Except in this day and age, it’s what information is circulating on the internet. The growing trend is that employers, admissions officers, consumers, dates, clients and coaches are checking out how you check out online. And if they find something that doesn’t reflect well on your persona, you are marked, and you may miss out on the opportunities you seek.
Hiring managers have cited that pictures, foul language, even a lack of information or no account, and what appears to be gossip or bullying have lead them to pass on candidates for jobs. Student-athletes have lost scholarships for sexually and racially explicit tweets. Potential employees have lost opportunities for posting comments about their job interviews and offers. Brands who mismanage their social networks, lost customers.
And yet, even with all these examples making the news, many folks continue to carelessly post all sorts of nonsense, without a worry as to how that will affect their reputation. So I’d like to pose a question to you, that may help curb thoughtless status updates, blog entries, photos and tweets.
How do you want to be remembered?
Do you want to be remembered as the high school athlete who gets passed over by your dream team because your Facebook albums contain too many photos with you holding a bottle of beer? Or do you want to be the athlete who is chosen over the other player not because your skills are all that more extraordinary, but because it is clear from your online profile that you are a stellar person and would be an asset to the team on many levels?
Do you want to be remembered as the employee who posts complaints about work and the boss all the time, which leads to a co-worker presenting said boss with screenshots of your rants and you getting fired? Or would you like to be the one who through cheerleading for your company online, gains such a quality personal following that you end up becoming the spokes person for the company?
Do you want to be remembered as the “idiot” who posted *that* post that got the team sanctioned by the NCAA? Or would you prefer to be the one who makes the winning play and becomes a Twitter trend.
Do you want to be remembered as the CEO who kept grumbling, “I’m too old for this stuff,” and missed the opportunity to personally communicate with thousands of brand fans and consumers, costing the company an increase in revenue? Or do you want to be remembered as that CEO who set the trend for other CEOs to follow, because you took the time to “get” social media and use it to be accessible, engage your audiences, build brand loyalty and increase sales?
Do you want to be remembered as the coach who banned your athletes from using Twitter? Or do you want to be the coach who empowers your players to use social media to build the team’s reputation, increase game attendance, and give a unique view and behind-the-scenes access to fans?
Do you want to be remembered as the lawyer who lied to the judge about a grandparent’s funeral to extend a trial only to be caught on Facebook with vacation photos? Or do you want to be remembered as the attorney who implemented a training program so that everyone in the firm could boost their client base and connect with the community?
Do you want to be the student whose online content catches the eye of the admissions officer, who promptly rejects your college application because you are clearly a liability? Or do you want to be the student who uses social media to develop a campaign, showing off your character and strengths, which gets you noticed and accepted by the college of your dreams?
Do you want to be remembered as the friend who shares way too much information, racy photos and inappropriate comments? Or do you want to be the person who everyone loves to follow, because you are an inspiration and always post the most engaging content?
What you say, do and post online does matter. Nothing is private. And it all speaks to who you are and your reputation.
How do you want to be remembered?