One of my hobbies is playing music. It’s something that I do for myself mostly, but I do enjoy performing at events and open mics. I recently performed at an event in the market and the host gave me such great praise. I was proud of myself for landing this gig because it was a crowd of 200 people or so, the largest crowd I’ve performed in front of yet. But at the end of my performance, the host also mentioned that there was some media coverage of the event and that people were trying to tag me on Twitter and add me on Facebook. She told me that “I need to open up online if I want this [music] thing to work for me”.
Did I need to open up more online?…
Initially, I thought “Dammit. I need to reactivate it my Twitter account, delete any embarrassing tweets from 2009 and…maybe I’ll make my Facebook open too”. Truth be told, I don’t even know what I want to get from my musical performances, but I do know that I would not like to have anyone and everyone freely viewing my photos and posts. However, opening up on social media and being exposed to future gigs or shoutouts in a magazine were enticing thoughts. How did I want to use my social media platforms? I felt like I was either outside of the social media realm with my music and missing out on opportunities for gigs or I had to enter the realm and follow the rules and upkeep.
Luckily, music is mostly a hobby for me, so I can take more time to decide what path I’d like to take with it. But we’re all in this same situation when it comes to personal branding online and finding a job. We either enter the social media realm and try to follow the rules of what is appropriate or not, or we stay off social media and potentially miss out on employment opportunities. We are brands whether we like it or not.
Certainly social media can still be fun; you can keep in touch with family and friends, post photos and funny content, but what if I don’t want my employer to see that? Not because it’s inappropriate but simply for privacy’s sake. Sure, I can put on my profile’s privacy settings, but it’s said that even with privacy settings employers have their ways. With this much monitoring, using social media sounds more like a delicate craft than anything.
Social media is more about behaving in case your employer does an online background check, and less about having fun and “socializing”. These days, an online presence is less authentic than ever; it’s tailored to possible employers when social media is typically used for friends and family.
What are your thoughts on how personal branding has shaped the way we use social media?
Should our employers use our online presence when considering us for jobs? Why or why not?
With such an emphasis on pleasing future employers, what’s the point of social media? To interact with family and friends or to create a good name for yourself?