Getting 'Savvy' with Social Media, don't crash and burn before you fly! - #DiscoverMedia
Everyone is 'online' nowadays and we're all Connected, It's amazing and there really seems to be a world of opportunities out there, you just need to know where to look and how to safely act.
My great aunt is 89 and she asked me recently "Andrew do you have the Facebook or Skype? I'm always Skpe'ing with your cousins in America...", the first thing I took from this was 'wait a second, you're online?'. The second thing I realised was that she can skype better than I can...
What do I mean by 'Savvy' social media? I'm not going to dictate a plethora of places where you should or shouldn't use, and how you can or can't use it (as we all have different interests!), however for Any job and not just one in 'the Media' you really should be more self aware what you're letting of yourself get loose online. It bites the best of us, and I was caught out rather badly at the end of my 2nd year of University (but dodged a bullet and was allowed to continue my course by a knife's edge. Can anyone say 3rd year model student?), so take it from someone with both good and bad experiences that unsavvy use of social media can backfire rather spectacularly. Some may say it's not clever broadcasting this about myself publically online when it could give a bad image for myself, however I'd like to think I've learnt and grown from silly childish mistakes, and instead want to use that for good to help other people in their life and actions (indeed I used my own social media follies to help run a campaign at University to raise awareness of carefulness online). You might not get kicked out of Uni, or lose your job, or a friendship or anything similarly harsh; but you may get passed over for a job opportunity from an eagle-eyed employer or lower the opinions of people towards yourself before you've even met.
It's easy to take to Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr in celebration and commiseration over your favourite film, show or football team, and just as easy to berate life because you've had a bad day, or even bad mouth those around you! (There’s that one colleague at work who gets your back right up?).
Yet before you put finger to key, take a moment to check yourself, is this appropriate?
Consider being 'online' with social networks and social media much like constantly being on a stage, where people can always see what you're up to, doing or thinking; but only if you give them the opportunity to be a Peeping Tom by posting in the first place!
I'm not telling you to never post online!
Where's the fun in that? However just take a moment to read what you put up, and check the privacy settings of who can see it, before you click PUBLISH. Every social media site has it, the ability to change your privacy settings to enable people the ability to see only what you want them to see. My friend has a private twitter where she rants after work (I'm going to get a beating for revealing that) and a public one where she talks with her friends about gigs, retweets and has public conversations. She's not being two-faced, it's just a platform for her to blow off steam (as she loves typing on her phone, so a seperate Twitter account is ideal, but do what works for you best) and then her 'public' profile which is composed of everything else. I'm the same, you can check my twitter and see that I prefer to retweet things of interest and reply to my friends. I'm a private (and busy, with the scouts) person, I'd much prefer to be kicking around a fire than telling everyone in the world i'm doing it. Though I may instagram a picture...
It's much of the same with Facebook, change your profile settings so people only see what you want them to see, or 'hide this post' to ensure that the drunken photos of you which you can't untag (but are plastered all over your profile from friday night) won't get seen by a boss when he googles your name before an interview. TRUST ME, all future employers google you before they interview you, if they say they don't then its... well probably not the truth ;)
Try it! Google yourself right now, "Andrew Daley Coventry"; and what's there are pages about me from University, a few film related sites and some awards I've won. Employers won't really search after two or three pages on google; so search yourself, dig out the old accounts on Ask.Me and the shame-inducing Tumblr you used for years ago which was "Oh so cute" but only embarassing to your public profile right now, and hit that delete or private button. Are you lying? No, you're just cultivating your online image. Does a farmer lie when he harvests wheat? Of course not, he's ensuring his crops are better for next year, and next year's crops better for the year after! And your online image deserves as much care as the one you fret over in the mirror each day, so make sure that the YOU you want people to see online is the BEST you that you can positively be!
Be Careful, is the message I feel is most important and I'm trying to relate across here. Don't whine about a TV show online and then apply to work there later on, as your name might get googled in connection with that show by employers to see your reaction to it, before getting invited to an interview. Why should they have you work as a runner on Downton Abbey if you absolutely hate Lady Sybil and bemoan that Matthew should miraculously return from the dead? (Of course have an opinion, and I loved Matthew as well, but be careful that opinion doesnt tar your personality and lose you work). Instead phrase it differently! "LOVING Downton Abbey tonight, but I wish they did another season with Dan Stevens #amazingactor", you're getting your opinion across but still protecting your back. And yes, I absolutely love Downton Abbey.
Look at how much people post and share on Facebook! (image to the side) Now remember back to all the things you've ever shared, commented on and posted or been tagged in, now consider that all of it is automatically public due to Facebook profile settings recently changing (unless you have them set to private). Is ITV or RedBeeMedia going to hire you because of that amazing night out where you were dressed as a certain convicted children's entertainer? By all means have a life, just don't ruin your future one by carelessly not taking care of how people see you online, you don't blurt everything out to strangers in a conversation so why do the same on a keyboard?
I have social network accounts all over the place, from the Scoutbase blog where I monitor the badge scheme for my young Cub Scouts, to Linkedin where I maintain my online CV, or the BBC Careers Hub and even THIS portfolio website, It's clever to both have a place which branches out to every element of yourself (such as this site goes off to flickr, facebook, twitter, ect) but also clever to maintain a variety of media sources specific to your skills and individually relevant to your interests to ensure you don't miss out. I use LinkedIn as much for job searching as I do to see what skills my friends have, to see if I can ask them for help for work or other questions. It's not bad to have a lot of areas relevant to yourself and your skills, just ensure they're updated, and you don't bad-mouth the Swedish King on your Tumblr as he might be that guest one day when you're a PMA on The One Show.
Promote yourself! Don't be scared to brag a little bit about your accomplishments online, as everyone does amazing things in their life. I won a few awards whilst at University, and have worked as the translator/transcriber on a Hollywood Documentary about Fukushima. We've all got small stand-out moments like that which make us great, and ensure they are publicised online, such as in your Twitter profile (where I mention my freelance writing and photography) or registered on your LinkedIn. Consider whether your mom would approve of what you put online, or if you'd like it to be plastered over the front page of The Sun, as you could become a 'big name' overnight and instantly all that dirt gets shovelled to the surface, similar concepts arise for job applications and interviews also.
Don't get downhearted because someone else's online presence is amazing and they constantly seem to be doing great things, and you try compare yourself to that, I bet that person 'monitors' what they put online and only cut in the best parts like a highlights reel. I do the same on Facebook and Twitter, and I have friends who only post if they're working on a TV show or on holiday to make it look like it's all great. Social media can be manipulated, so manipulate it to show your best side. If you want to work in the Media industry then a squeaky clean online presence is the best bet; shine like a star, don't let your darkest/embarassing moments tar your amazing image.