This is the season when many children and young adults reach their milestone of graduation and look forward to their next chapter of accomplishment in their lives. It is also a good time for all kids to recognize that while social media is part of their lifestyle, it could ruin their future as well.
As a marketing executive, I rely on social media and see it as a positive attribute of brand marketing. So I am most bullish on social media, probably even more so than young digital natives. But I am also very concerned about how young adults use social media. This concern was punctuated this week when I read the article “Social Media Has Cost One in Ten Young Adults a Job.” “Despite this, the majority of teens and young adults appear unworried about social media’s potential professional impact: in the U.S., 70% of those surveyed said they weren’t concerned about social media harming their future career prospects, and 71% of Brits said the same.”
Maybe this is not a post for my typical audience … please pass this on to your kids or a young adult you truly care about. So if you are a young adult who receives this article from your parent or someone saying “read this,” I know how you feel. Far into my adult life, I still get “read this articles” sent to me by my mother. So I understand the turnoff.
In addition, I understand your adventurous nature. I will share with you that I was an “experimental kid” and somewhat rebellious myself in my youthful years. But my digital track record shows I have not done anything crazy. Does yours? Who should see that, or better yet, who do you not want to see that? Are you doing anything about it?
So graduates and other kids and young adults, please stop to think before you post. Think like a brand should. In marketing, a brand spends exhaustive time formally considering how they want the public as a whole to perceive them. You need to do this as well, now … not later. You need to think about your “personal brand.” This perception of personal brand goes way beyond your friends and so many are ignoring this. And I am not just saying you need to just worry what your parents see. How about considering what a college admissions officer sees? An employer? Do you really want to screw up your future based upon some dumb, stupid posting you did?
The reality is we do live in a prejudicial society. People are always making prejudgments on who you are and what you would be like in certain situations. And you must also know that you are fueling this prejudice by your postings and shared pictures and videos. Obviously, you can set privacy settings to let a finite circle have access to your social media postings, but the reality is that a) most people do not set appropriate privacy control for all their social channels of use, and b) the reality is that if someone wants to gain access to your postings bad enough, they can probably get it.
I don’t want to come across as some preachy adult that you just turn off. I do not want to change who you are. I simply want you to act and be smart. I always tell my kids … If you have been partying, don’t get in a car. Call me to be picked up … no questions asked. I will respect your maturity and common sense not to get in a potentially dangerous situation. And when it comes to social media, I am telling you the same thing. I am not trying to tell you how to lead your life … what you should do and not do. Just think about how you broadcast your activities. You should not use a dangerous vehicle if you choose certain actions and activities. And social media can be a very dangerous vehicle used in the wrong circumstances. Don’t let one dumb post ruin your future.
If you know someone who will value this, I appreciate you sharing it. If you are a teenager or young adult … Be smart … Be happy. Go chase your dreams and …
Make It Happen,