Social media dos and don'ts

Is your social media future safe?

Social media can help your future job search—or it can cause it to crash and burn. Find out if you’re using yours the right way.

Podcast transcript

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PETE: You’re listening to the How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents podcast here on the IU Money Smarts Radio Network, I’m Pete the planner joined as always by Alex. Alex, hello.

ALEX: Howdy.

PETE: Today, on the podcast, we’re dealing with social media and the impact it can not only have on your career but your financial life. Alex, we have a special guest today, I’m very excited. We’ve got Kyle Lacy, who’s an author and the director of global content for Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. Kind of a big deal and we appreciate you taking the time to be on the podcast with us today, hello.

KYLE: Thanks for having me.

PETE: So, you wrote a book called Brand Yourself, which helps people understand how to position themselves not only on the internet but with social media. And you’ve written a book specifically about Twitter for business, so you were the perfect person to help, Alex and I understand the impact that social media can have on someone's career. Are people still making that many mistakes with social media?

KYLE: Absolutely, and I think that it’s because we don’t understand who’s actually watching or that everybody actually knows what you’re putting on in terms of Facebook, what images and what content you’re putting on there.

PETE: Now Alex, how cognizant when you’re just there enjoying yourself on social media, a new smartphone acquiree, by the way. You usually were going with the brick, or whatever, earlier, but then you’ve upgraded.

ALEX: Yeah. We finally got there after years of torment.

PETE: Are you regretting the monthly cost by the way?

ALEX: It hurts a little bit, it hurts.

PETE: See. Good for you, good for you.

ALEX: But, you know what, we're doing it.

PETE: By the way, you were doing some weird text to Twitter thing before you had-

ALEX: It was a mess-

PETE: It was a disaster, we’ll do an episode on that. Do you think about what you’re posting before you post it?

ALEX: 100%, and especially for my case because I do also interact with adults on Twitter.

PETE: Yes, adults, you are an adult.

ALEX: Yes, adults on Twitter. I guess technically I am, it’s weird. But I do interact with professionals on Twitter, stuff like that, so I’m always watching what I say and Tweeting about different things, but keeping it in mind.

PETE: Kyle, do you want people, I mean, your advice to young professionals, is it to, if you’re not gonna say anything appropriate, is it to lock your account or is it just don’t do it all together?

KYLE: I think it’s all personal opinion, but from a professional standpoint, you definitely need to watch it. And I think that a rule of thumb, I think you can say this in life anyway, if your mother would dislike what you are saying-

PETE: Yeah.

KYLE: Then you probably shouldn’t be posting it, because an HR person that might be hiring you or maybe a small business owner will not like it anyway. So that’s the best rule of thumb, in my opinion.

PETE: On the flip side is, and really, social media is about the brand you create for yourself. I think a student can really impact their career greatly by creating a great brand for themselves having a blog about their topic of interest. Alex, you’re even working on an ebook and something that you’re interested in. Is that in an effort to brand yourself to offset some ills in the past, or are you just trying to get ahead of the curve?

ALEX: There’s no ills that I know of, but who knows what went on when I first joined Twitter.

PETE: [LAUGH] Exactly.

ALEX: Who knows what went on all those years ago.

PETE: But it’s strategic in nature.

ALEX: Yeah, definitely, I want the experience to write in the book and all that. But also, getting that experience and having that on your resume going forward and being able to interact with people about it, have that, you can talk about it now that you’ve done it. So having that is definitely strategic to help build my brand.

PETE: Kyle, without naming names and specific situations, can you think of an infamous social media faux pas that has cost someone career wise that is out there on the popular?

KYLE: Yeah, I mean, if you Google it in general, there are tons of them, whether it’s somebody that worked at Ford that tweeted something about terrible drivers in Detroit with a couple of bad words in it, accidentally, from the Ford Twitter account.

PETE: That’s not good.

KYLE: Yeah, so there’s a ton of different stories about things going wrong, but I think the main point of doing all this is that even though social media is still new but old at the same time because it’s been around forever.

PETE: Right.

KYLE: Most people do not use it the way that we should be, like Alex is, like I did in the past. And I think it sets you apart if you do it the right way in terms of building your brand.

PETE: How much are employers looking at social media? I know every time we have an intern in our office and they’re a serious contender, I sit there and I not only Google their name in front of the them, but I go through their Twitter account in front of them.

KYLE: Wow. [LAUGH]

PETE: Yeah, yeah, you know what?

KYLE: That’s pretty intense.

PETE: But it’s important, I think it’s important.

KYLE: Yeah, absolutely.

PETE: Cuz I’ve got a pretty solid social media brand so I get nervous about that. Alex, you’ve heard the story. I had a guy that I was interviewing. Kyle, first tweet I see is an off-color joke so bad that I can’t even allude to what it was about on this show. And I was like, you know what, I think we’re probably done.

KYLE: No, and you know what? Especially for corporate America, especially if you’re wanting to get a job at a bigger company, they can’t afford to hire you if you're a little bit off color. I mean, they already have a hard enough time following employees in general in life to make sure that they’re not hurting the brand, and if you are off color at all, most HR departments look at social before they hire. I know that I do when I'm hiring for my team. I’ll go to LinkedIn, I’ll go to Facebook, I’ll go to Twitter. And if you wanna be off color, make sure that you’re using filter so it’s just your friends that are seeing a lot of this stuff. But it’s better to just not be.

PETE: It’s interesting, Alex. Do you think, I mean LinkedIn is obviously social media. But LinkedIn is also kind of the modern resume. Do you, I mean, that is the perfect connection between getting a job and being able to fund your life going forward and just shoot your mouth off in social media.

ALEX: Yeah, and LinkedIn is interesting too because it’s hard to put anything inappropriate on there because it’s so professionally focused. But at the same time, especially with publishing now, people have been posting things that probably shouldn’t be posted, whether they’re blogging or trying to. So watch out for what topics you’re covering and how you’re twisting them cuz there’s been a lot of inappropriate stuff that has been posted there.

PETE: Yeah, Kyle, I think about the levels of debt students are coming out with today, and you want every competitive advantage possible. And to think that you would shoot yourself in the foot because you’re telling weird jokes during the Oscars or something on Twitter, this seems like a complete waste of four years. How much are things archived now and do you suggest that people try to go through a massive purge of their online past.

KYLE: You can if you want. Because we’ve been on Facebook, for example, for so long, just delete the account if you think that something is gonna go wrong, unless you wanna spend the time purging it. But if you wanna share stuff, close your Facebook off to private.

PETE: I don’t even know how to do that anymore, cuz are they always changing? And I sound like the old guy.

KYLE: They change it everyday, pretty much.

PETE: They really do.

KYLE: But make sure you that you try to at least do it and then save LinkedIn for professional. And you can put whatever you want on Facebook if you make it private, and it’s just with your friends and family depending on what you’re sharing.

PETE: Yeah, I mean, Alex, for so long, you know, you go out in the world and I’m sure your parents knowing that they would say something. You’re representing our family and as a college athlete, you’re representing your school, but at some point, when you get in the professional world, which by the way, the point of it being on this podcast is your entire financial life is linked to your professional world. You represent your employer whether you think so or not. Has that sunk in yet?

ALEX: Yeah, definitely. It happens every day. And it is a total positive negative thing. And even, not even towards your professional life, it can affect you before that. There was this story that just came out, I think it was earlier this summer. The offensive line coach at Penn State dropped a recruit because of his social media presence. He was gonna have a full ride, everything through Penn State, grade school, all through college, gone, done.

PETE: Yeah.

ALEX: Just lost it. That’s huge.

PETE: All right, Kyle, before we wrap it up. I guess your number one rule of thumb for social media is how it will not only impact your career but your financial life after that is, if you wouldn’t post it in front of your mom or say it to your mom, don’t say it. Is there anything additional people need to know other than maybe build a positive brand and not just build a neutral brand.

KYLE: Yeah, the only thing to remember is the competitive landscape for every single job you’re applying for as a student or as a potential first job is way more than it has been in the past, mainly because of the Internet, and you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by being stupid.

PETE: Kyle Lacy, author, director of global content for Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Club. Thank you for taking time to be on this illustrious podcast.

KYLE: Thank you.

PETE: Alex, it’s always a pleasure.

ALEX: Good to be here.

PETE: If you want more information, suggest you get it. Go to moneysmarts.iu.edu. You’ve been listening to How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents here in on the IU MoneySmarts Radio Network.

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