Who am I? I’ve found myself asking this question more and more as I continue to juggle two lives- one being the portrayal of my life on social media, and the other being my much less exciting, real everyday life. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time worshipping all the glorious 90’s and 2000’s idols most kids my age loved: Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, Avril Lavigne, Lindsay Lohan, No Doubt, Fergie, Green Day, Beyoncé, etc. Though they all seemed so untouchable then, I adored them and nevertheless felt incredibly close to them. Twelve-year-old me popped an Aaron Carter CD fresh off the shelves into my new walkman and blasted “I Want Candy” on repeat. Twenty-three-year-old me follows celebrities on every form of social media, researches their entire life story with one or two clicks online, and nearly faints when I get even the tiniest response from them through a like or comment on Twitter (ok, not really but you get where I’m going with this). Reminiscing on the good old days when my idols were at a safe distance made me ask- Has this world of instant access to information and intimate online relationships with celebrities/presidents/anyone impacted my identity?
If I had known as a preteen that one of my biggest concerns in 10 years would be who is following me and looking at what I post, I’d literally LOL (instead of just typing it into AIM). Compared to just a few years ago, today people consider it almost inhumane for places like airports to not provide free WiFi. As some of the few remaining individuals to have relatively Internet-less childhoods, Millennials’ reliance on smartphone cameras, filters, hashtags, likes, comments, followers, etc. has become excessive- arguably impacting the way the way we see ourselves. This is further affected by the fact that an increasing number of Millennials are paid huge amounts for their “influence,” squeezing a sponsored product or service as “features” in their seemingly perfect lives on Instagram. But shows like Netflix’s Black Mirror have demonstrated that continuing on this path of technologically dependent existence will only result in the downfall of the human race.
Alright, yes- that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. But after going through a Kylie Jenner moment of “like, realizing things,” I’ve noticed that Millennials (including myself) are losing sight of who we are- keeping our heads down and instead choosing to look through an online lens that blinds us from our own reality. Social media provides a steady bombardment of influencers, lifestyle bloggers, travelers, celebrities, artists, etc.- The list goes on. It’s a visual “all you can eat buffet” of photos, videos, tweets, and likes from people who were once untouchable. Now, it offers an intimate look at everyone’s favorite things and even their exact location.
Obsessing over influencers in our lives is normal- until it distracts us from living our own reality and actually discovering who we are. We’re getting instant gratification through actual numbers that determine who likes us, wants to follow us, or shares our posts on their platforms. We’re posting everything online, cutting moments into neat square boxes to obey algorithms, trends, and standards set by each social media community. Our lives have become a glorious pixelated world that is pleasing to the eye, but ultimately makes us all look the same. Even so, the silver lining is that we’re recognizing our addiction to these online identities and dedicating more time to discovering our individual paths in life. Instead of posting every second online, my first step going forward is to just take a mental picture. Trust me, it’ll last longer. 🙂
– – – – G.M. – – – –
What do you think about Millennial identities and social media? I’d love to hear more about everyone’s experience with finding their identity while navigating the world of social media- comment below or send me a direct message via email,LinkedIn, or Instagram!
In today’s bustling world of technology and online socializing, it’s critical for anyone entering the professional world to make a positive impression in all areas- including on social media. Though it can be difficult to find a balance between putting your personal versus professional side online, there are some social media pages where flexibility is valued. Depending on the profession, a slight emphasis on your “fun” side could be just what employers are looking for. The important part is knowing where to draw the line between social media outlets meant for privacy and those that can be manipulated to fit your career aspirations.
Let’s break down the different forms of social media, starting with the most personal and private. When it comes to privacy, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter are most often used for social interactions with close friends. They offer private messaging, calling, video/photo sharing, and repeatedly feature political, religious, and/or societal discussions. Granted, some people use Facebook to create special pages for their businesses or talents. These pages are the exception to the rule- but unless you’re an actor or business owner, there’s no need to create your own Facebook page.
For platforms like Snapchat and Facebook, enforcing strict privacy settings is probably the smartest option- especially if you like to post opinionated content or you’re just venting about your day. Again, these are more personal forms of social media and it’s probably best if a potential employer doesn’t catch which bar you went to last night on your Snapchat/ Instagram story or what your religious/ political/ relationship status is on Facebook and Twitter.
BottomLine: Don’t add your employers on these social media outlets unless they’re either really close friends or they already know these things about you.
As mentioned earlier, privacy settings are a great way to separate your personal life online from the professional side you want employers to see. Because privacy is immediately an option for most social media outlets, try to figure out which ones you’d like to use for work and which ones are strictly for play. Instagram is a very flexible outlet that creates a balance between the two- without spilling all of your personal beliefs. As an image-heavy site, it’s a great way to portray your personal interests while simultaneously showcasing your personal branding skills with hashtags, creative captions, and tagging of relevant brands.
Don’t let the numbers get in the way- having the most followers or likes isn’t always a deciding factor for getting the job. Instead, focus on using Instagram to show employers your “fun” side and the numbers will come later. How do you spend your vacation time? What kind of creative outlets are you interested in? What are your hobbies and (healthy) recreational interests? Use specific hashtags and add your location in travel photos so others can see where you’ve been and follow your adventures. If you keep posting things that you enjoy, you’ll discover how many other people share your interests… and maybe even have something to reference when your employer brings up their favorite travel destinations or obsession with hiking.
Of course, avoid posting excessively racy photos, drinking, drugs, or any kind of inappropriate behavior in these images (unless that’s the kind of job you’re looking for). Save your Las Vegas selfies, cat photo collection, or college drinking conquests for another Instagram page. From beautiful photography and art to simple photos laughing with friends at a bonfire, emphasize the positive activities in your life so employers can see just how vibrant your personality is.
Bottom Line: Like it or not, today’s employers are consistently checking the background of applicants to see what they’re signing up for. Make sure you’re the one in control of how you look online- turn on the privacy settings for pages you don’t want them to see!
For an example of a personal/ professional Instagram aesthetic using fun travel photos (my favorite way to spend time off), check out my Instagram in the screenshot below, or click this link to go straight to my page. There, you’ll see how I like to use hashtags and posting techniques I’ve learned from managing social media pages for different businesses in the marketing industry.
While trying to keep up with your appearance to employers, don’t forget to put just as much effort into doing your homework on the company itself. A great way to do this is to start by Googling them, scroll through their social media pages, or find them on LinkedIn. Just as it’s important for you to look professional online, most companies work hard to maintain their own social media pages and provide up-to-date information for potential employees.
LinkedIn is an excellent professional social media outlet that can be used for networking, finding jobs, endorsing skills, and presenting your resume/ past experience. If you haven’t yet created one, it’s a great idea to make a LinkedIn page before applying for a job. With this outlet, you can research the company itself and start connecting with employees even before you land that interview. For a simple example of a LinkedIn profile, check out this link of my profile. I included a professional headshot, my resume, descriptions of past jobs, and a few of my skills endorsed by coworkers and friends.
Another excellent resource for presenting yourself professionally online is to create a website or blog. Blogging is an excellent way to attract employers by demonstrating your talent for writing- a highly coveted skill in any industry. As you may have noticed, the personal/ professional blog you’re currently reading was created using WordPress. Here are some other excellent free blogging services, like Bluehost, Weebly, and Squarespace. By creating a personal website or blog, you take control of exactly how you want to portray yourself to employers using a personalized platform.
Finally, one of the best tips I found for marketing yourself online is to create a “social media loop.” Upon drawing viewers to your profile on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, a smart marketing move is to always include links to your other social media profiles. For example: when people see my Instagram page, the only link in my personal description box at the top of my profile leads directly to my blog posts here on WordPress. Then, once visitors are brought to my website, I include links to several of my other social media pages. The “loop” continues from there, with visitors bouncing between social media platforms and spending as much time as possible on my different pages.
By implementing a “social media loop” across all of your social media pages, you’ll hold viewers’ attention even longer and direct their gaze toward what you want them to see (your resume, website, photography, or just fun facts about who you are). Whether these visitors are friends or potential coworkers and employers, it’s important to create this loop to showcase your personal branding talent. Though this “loop” will especially count towards getting marketing and advertising jobs, it’s common practice for most companies to value an extensive social media presence in today’s advanced and competitive job industry.
Below is a screenshot from a free presentation by World Nate, “How To Build A Social Media Following.” In this slide, Nate’s girlfriend (and travel buddy) Hannah Martin outlines the importance of having a “social loop.” Her social loop connects various social media outlets to gain followers and promotion from her target audience: introverted travelers. Beginning with her Instagram page, a link takes visitors to her blog, where she features multiple other social media platforms. While this marketing “loop” is unique to their business (travel), it’s a great way to show employers your interests and keep them trapped on your various platforms so you are the candidate that remains at the front of their mind once they start scheduling interviews.
So, let’s go over the main points again:
Keep your personal life private on social media- avoid adding coworkers or future employers as friends (unless it’s a work-friendly platform like LinkedIn)
It’s ok to have a mix of personal and professional on your page– just be sure to keep it tasteful so that employers will take you seriously
Just as employers will likely investigate your social media platforms, you too should research their company and how they market themselves online. This can come in handy during interviews- what better candidate than someone who already did their homework!
Creating a website proves you can handle basic web-page formatting and highlights assets that might not be on your social media platforms (writing skills, photography, videography, etc.)
Capture your audience’s attention for even longer by creating a “social media loop.” Do this by simply linking different social media pages or websites on every platform and making it easy for your audience to scroll through each one.
That’s it! Thank you so much for reading this blog, and stay tuned for more helpful tips every week from yours truly. If you have any more questions regarding personal branding, how to use different social media platforms, or professional inquiries please contact me via email or messenger on one of my social media pages. Oh, and don’t forget to follow me to keep up with future blog posts!