Social media can connect you to an audience at an impressive speed, but also gives you the chance to share inappropriate or questionable content. Also, if you’re looking for a job or internship in China, for example, don’t think you’re off the hook. Although Facebook and Twitter are blocked in the Middle Kingdom (LinkedIn is not), employers can check your accounts easily by surpassing the Great Firewall through a virtual private network. Companies big and small in China even use western social media tools to reach out to global consumers, so don’t think you’re safe from inspection.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t destroy your career when using social media.
It sounds simple, but common sense is incredibly important when it comes to social media. Sharing photos of yourself on a beach when you’ve called in sick to work is not good idea. Tweeting that you don’t enjoy your work and hate your boss is pretty disastrous. Complaining about life in China – how packed the subway is or the pollution can give the wrong signal to your local boss or even foreign managers that you can’t handle living in the country.
Separate Your Accounts
If you’re a user of multiple social networking sites, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, it may be a good idea to separate each one. LinkedIn is known to be more professional, while Facebook is more for sharing with friends. Separating each account and knowing the differences between each one is advantageous as you can decide what comments to post on each separately. Keeping LinkedIn for professional connections while having a more casual stance on Twitter gives some separation between professional and casual conversations.
(If you speak Chinese (or even if you don’t), it’s a good idea to join some of the local social media sites like Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.)
Use The Correct Tone
When it comes to tone, try to use the correct tone depending on the situation. While on Facebook you can have a more casual conversation, services like LinkedIn are built as a professional network. Understand which networks require a certain tone of voice.
Know Your Privacy Settings
All social media networks have an array of privacy settings that you can tweak with to get a tailored privacy setting depending on what you’d like to share with other individuals. These can go from a totally private profile to a more open profile, but it’s important as it means you have complete control over what is seen by others.
It’s also not a good idea to set your accounts so that you’re totally invisible when an employer searches for you. These days, social media is an integral part of a company’s day-to-day operations, and you may be asked to do some social media as part of your job. If an employer can’t find you on Facebook, for instance, she may assume you don’t have an account. And in 2013, that doesn’t look good.