The glitter of the social media world has been catching hold of everyone, whether it’s a student or a corporate employee.
As as a young student just starting off your career, social media provides an immense opportunity and a platform for self-expression as well as creating a strong personal brand for your future career. However, given the powerful and viral nature of all social networks, there are also inherent risks involved. Before you start off on a social media spree, here are some aspects to consider:
Social Media Goals
Whether you’re ten or twenty, reflect on your goals. These could range from connecting with classmates, friends, getting news from your school or university, following people you like, or building a professional brand for yourself. A small reflection in the beginning allows you to be aware of your own needs and act in a suitable manner. Setting up initial goals is also a great way to share with your parents or teachers about why you’d like to be on social media.
Social Media Tonality
Social media gurus or experts do not hide behind fake names. So, if you’ve decided to be on social media, using your own credentials, the tonality you use has to be reflective of you as a person. Whatever is said on the Internet stays on forever. So, always keep your tonality polite, kind and be the person anyone would feel comfortable like talking to, just like in real life!
Social Media Content
Depending on your goals, share content that your friends/ followers will find interesting. Is there an industry that you’d like to gain information on? Find out interesting content, and share it! Remember that what you share on social media- including your personal feeling/rants can be seen by everyone. It may seem private, but it can be forwarded, copied and re-shared by anyone. You do not want to say anything that you’d not be happy saying in person. It could create a big dent in your reputation, always be aware of that! Always ensure you do a small search/ proof check before forwarding content that may seem inflammatory – it’s important to check validity before becoming a part of a scam forwarding team. Not every forward or piece of content is likely to be authentic. Always check before posting!
Social Media Permissions
Remember that all that you find on Google images, or the Internet is not free information to be shared, copied or plagiarized. Content needs to be authentic, and if you use someone else’s content, you need to seek permissions, or attribute the content piece to them. (read: How to avoid content theft)
Another level of permissions or idea sharing may happen with a discussion with your parents. Theres no harm in talking to your parents about your social media interests and sharing that you’d be active on a network. If done well, there’s nothing to hide!
Ineffective Behavior for Social Media
- Bullying: Many cases of social media bullying have been reported over the years, and this is not what you want to indulge in. If something or someone got you upset, the best way to handle your feelings and anger is communication in person. Pick up the phone and talk. If you are unable to discuss your feelings with the concerned person, seek help from a counselor or someone that you trust, for instance, a sibling or a parent. Getting back at anyone by bullying is not acceptable, and more often than not will lead you into trouble.
- Trolling: It is very easy to get under a garb of anonymity and upset others. A trolling behavior includes- starting arguments, posting inflammatory or off-topic messages to people or communities. Such behavior is most likely handled by ignoring or blocking those indulging in it. It will not give you many brownie points if you constantly troll your favorite celebrities or people you want to communicate with. The much easier way there is to have a normal, human conversation.
- Catfishing: From the MTV series, Catfish where I take the name from, the phenomena of posing as someone that you’re not, is a serious problem. If you’re setting up fake profiles, communicating with someone with a different name/ photographs, you need to self-evaluate your motives and reasons for not being able to be authentic. It’s highly unacceptable and can cause emotional/personal issues.
Social Media Tools
To help you build a social media brand, there are plenty of tools you may use. There are tools for listening, for instance, set up Google alters for your own brand, name, industry you follow, use Twitter to follow your favorite experts, use blog directories like AllTop to find blogs relevant to your interest areas, you can also use Google’s blog search to identify interesting content blogs.
There are also interesting tools that parents can use for training kids on social media. Social media expert, Ken Herron, shared this snippet with me, “I was surprised to receive a phone call a few weeks ago from one of our customers, he said that he was using his personal Outbox Pro account to teach his two daughters (ages 8 and 10) social media safety and etiquette. He said that it made him a hero with his daughters. They had been begging him to go on Facebook for months, and that he was really struggling with it, as he knew they were now tech-savvy enough to create their own accounts and not tell him. When he first started using the tool so his clients could approve the posts his team was writing, it hit him that we had also created, if accidentally, the ultimate tool for parents and teachers. Because the author never knows the account’s username and password, and nothing can be posted without approval, it gives him the opportunity to review (and discuss as needed) every single post his girls write, so that they understand what’s good to post and what’s not. And it has the added benefit that his two girls can share the same Facebook account, with both of them posting as much or as little as they want!”
Social media can be a great platform for students to create a great presence for their future careers. It’s important to be authentic, engaged and human about how you handle the medium to be successful. I do hope these guidelines come in handy when you’re trying to find social media success as a student!