Talking to Young People About Social Media Image

This morning I had another really cool speaking engagement. I was invited to speak to students enrolled in our “Each 1 Teach 1” program here at Coastal. Designed to give high school students a head start to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills before hitting college, this program is the brainchild of both our business school and education school.

Myself with some great Coastal Carolina students and Conway High School students after today's presentation.

Myself with some great Coastal Carolina students and Conway High School students after today’s presentation.

The topic I was specifically asked to address? Social media image.

I have spoken about this topic before and I think sometimes people have a different idea on what I am going to say. When I go up in front of others though, especially young people, I never present a message of doom and gloom. I don’t tell students to fear social media, post sparingly, and/or set all their accounts to private. Rather, I tell them to completely embrace social media in a way that will enhance their personal brand.

Today I told the students to stay up on latest social media trends and to have a solid presence on all the major social media networks. I tried to relay to them that a job candidate with a vibrant and professional social media presence will appeal to employers more than the candidate with zero social presence at all. I explained that folks who maintain engaging social media public profiles show that they are sophisticated, current, and have little to hide.

Ooops! I am definitely blinking in this photo.

Ooops! I am definitely blinking in this photo.

Of course I did touch on the unfortunate users who sabotage their social media image with loud opinions, insensitive comments, and embarrassing rants. We went around the room talking about each of our social media pet peeves. I cautioned them about a common career-ending feature that is available both on computers and iPhones, the screenshot, that can make your most ill-advised tweet or post live forever. I let them know that social media does have a dark side.

But by a wide margin, my 30-minute presentation today was mostly focused on the opportunities we all have to utilize social media in a way that will help us achieve greater success. To the high school students in the room I told them to start now on building their social media presence and personal brand. Don’t be afraid to showcase what makes you stand out and what you can bring to the table via your social channels. There is no greater tool we have to tell our own individual stories than through social media. Don’t Blink.

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