Convenient, exciting and dynamic, social media has forever changed the way we connect with friends and strangers across the globe. Most users agree that social media’s various platforms can be satisfying, inspiring and useful, while also having annoying downsides that can make you feel vulnerable or exposed. Millennials and Gen-Zers active in the job market or online dating world are at a complicated juncture when it comes to social media. How much do you share? What accounts should you deactivate? What should young adults do to reap the benefits of social media while avoiding the headaches?
Do: Act online as you would in public
Social media platforms may feel anonymous, but they’re really more like virtual social gatherings. If you act as though your fellow Twitter and Instagram followers are real people (which they are) and in the same room with you, you’re more inclined to share or post in a dignified manner. Some young adults disable their social media accounts when job hunting, but a better strategy is to create an online imprint that you can be proud of, suggests the Center for Association Leadership. Don’t use bad grammar, profanity, or brag about how drunk you were the night before. Save those unrestricted, casual moments for face-to-face meet-ups with trusted friends, and use social media to build a positive brand.
Do: Use LinkedIn to showcase your most relevant experience
LinkedIn might lack the instant gratification of other social media platforms, but it is essential for job seekers who use the platform to post resumés, study up on trends in their chosen fields and make virtual business connections. According to Inc. Magazine leadership guru Peter Economy, it’s essential that young adults populate their LinkedIn page with quality, not quantity. In other words, don’t include weekend lawn cutting and part-time fast food jobs when you’re trying to land a full-time position in a professional setting.
Don’t: Overshare on a dating website
Online dating is commonplace, but there are steps you can take to ensure your experience is safe. Consider using a separate email account when you sign up for a dating website, as well as a P.O. box if an address is required. On your first date, tell a friend where you’re going and report back to them when you get home. Use your first name only in early communications until you’re comfortable revealing more.
Do: Maintain your social media platform passwords
Be sure you keep your passwords in a safe place in case you need to make changes to your accounts or shut them down. Facebook, in particular, makes it next to impossible to shut down your account without your password, so be sure to keep passwords current and readily available.
Don’t: Post anything, anywhere, you might regret in the future
You might delete a post, but remember that the internet archives everything. Always err on the side of restraint when posting on any social media platform.
— MAGGIE HEYN RICHARDSON