Social Media should be renamed Personal Marketing. Every picture you post, every status update (every blog post you publish) you make is telling the world a little bit about who you are as a person. It’s telling people you don’t even know yet whether they should like you or whether you aren’t worth their time. Don’t care? Fair enough, but don’t go asking for favors when you suddenly decide to start caring.
The world doesn’t care about intentions, it cares about actions. Every time you hit that Publish button you have made an action. Every retweet, like, and +1 is an action. It tells the world a little bit about who you are. Every time you avoid hitting those buttons you are saying something as well. Not having an account is no different that posting every five minute – it says who you are.
It’s all about marketing. You are selling yourself to the world. Be friends with me! Hire me! Promote me! Pick up the phone and call me! You are marketing yourself and who you are.
Write about work on Facebook? You bet that they see it and make decisions about the future based on it. Have a blog that touches on work related topics? Does your company see you as a well branded promoter or do they see you as someone giving away the secrets? It all matters.
In my time writing, I’ve deleted more posts than I have actually hit publish on. I have one post that’s been sitting in Draft for 3 months while I daily debate whether it deserves to see the light of day (anything that sits that long either needs a rewrite or deletion). But this is true because I think about what I write before it goes out. I may not spend a ton of time on editing of the thoughts (hello to my grammer-trakking friends out there!) but you better believe every post is considered before hitting the Publish button.
Does this mean you should avoid Social Media? NO! You should think about how the things you write will be perceived by a hiring manager 3 years (or 10 years) from now. You should cultivate a way of interacting that shows you off and doesn’t make you look bad. Have fun on it, post the pictures of your vacation, tell the stupid jokes because those are who you are. But know that people you don’t know are reading all of it and trying to decide if they should get to know you based on it.