Professinalism on Social Media
A night out was exactly what Ryan needed. He finally got a job after months of going through the interview process over and over again. His friends had planned the perfect night of barhopping. Surely alcohol would take away the stress. The evening included beer, beer, and even more beer and Ryan did not even think about his job at that point. He rode the mechanical bull in one bar, posed with some scantily clad ladies for some pictures in another, and wrote some posts on Facebook, like “dis isd the besadt nigte off myh liofe!!@#$@# 7 beeers downn anmnsd a looooooot moreee to gooooooo!!!” Waking up with a hangover the next day was not the only painful thing he had to deal with. Logging onto Facebook, he saw all the pictures uploaded from his crazy night out and comments on his status. One friend (that he met at a bar and added as a friend right after) said, “Dude you still owe me money for smoking my whole pack of cigarettes!” Ryan’s mother also commented, “Ryan, at least turn off your phone when you are drunk so this doesn’t happen.” Before he could call his friends and tell them to delete the pictures, the phone rang. His new boss, whom he friended on Facebook soon after he got the job, informed Ryan that he was no longer employed with the firm. Ryan’s posts and pictures did not reflect the attitude and morals of the company. Once again, Ryan was jobless.
Social media is the number one activity and news source in the United States (Fox). Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and all the other sites make it easy to connect with friends near and far. With just one click, a status or a picture can be shared and seen by friends and even friends of friends. This can be considered a blessing and a curse. One moment or one lapse in judgment can lead to the spread of information that never should have been posted in the first place (Greyson). The sharing of pictures and other personal information can be detrimental if it is seen by the wrong person. A person should present themselves in a professional way at all times on social media, rather than to censor themselves on occasion. Blurring the lines between professional and personal lives is easy, so being more astute to what is shared or posted on social networking sites should be taken seriously as it can have an impact on one’s career and everyday life.
Recently, BBC wrote an article called, “Can Social Media Get You Fired?” The article began by saying:
We’ve all been there. Scanning one of your social media profiles, you notice a photo posted by a respected colleague in a less-than-professional situation. Maybe you cringed a bit, knowing the photo didn’t match the professional persona you know your colleague wants to convey. Increasingly, as personal and professional lives become more enmeshed, even talented professionals run the risk of getting fired or not getting a new position because of what they post on social networks (Garone).
Social media makes it hard to balance a personal and professional life. The urge to share something may be tempting, but self-control must be utilized. Lawyers, school teachers and those in the medical field are berated and often times let go from their jobs due to what is on their Facebook page or Twitter feed. What is posted does not match the societal norms of what is expected from those professions.
In his online essay, S. Ryan Greysen explains how professionalism is mirrored through social media. One example he relays is, “In one instance, physicians and other health professionals delivering aid in Haiti posted pictures online of naked and unconscious patients in operating suites, and of physicians drinking or posing with grins and “thumbs up” in front of patients or coffins.” Though this is a more extreme example of unprofessionalism online, it still gets the point across. An article from by the College of Education at the University of Texas in Austin shares:
In 2006, an Austin high school art teacher was fired when her partner posted pictures of her on Flickr.com. The postings were to chronicle the couple’s lives together. Another teacher with a grudge against the art teacher told students. From there, it was only a matter of little time before parents and district administrators discovered the material (Facebook and professionalism).
Someone is always watching and looking online so it is vital that online profiles are censored.
Though it is important to conduct yourself in a presentable manner on social networking sites, restricting yourself to business discussions alone can be boring (Akalp). Social media is not only a place to connect with friends, but also a forum to promote oneself. It is a place to develop your “online brand” (Akalp). Mashable.com wrote an article on how to balance professional and personal lives on Twitter. Though they mention Twitter, these guidelines can be used for every social media site.
The first tip is to accept the fact that Twitter is not a private place. The article explains that, “Anything you discuss on Twitter is part of your public digital footprint; therefore, you should always assume anything you discuss on Twitter will be seen by a potential client, employer, partner or colleague.” Second, being a “robot” is not necessary. Talking about business alone prevents people from knowing the real you (Akalp). The third guideline for social networking is to stay away from “touchy” subjects. These range anywhere from politics to religion. Yet another recommendation is to refrain from sharing too much information that followers or friends do not need to know. A fifth guideline for using social media is to be considerate of your audience. Sharing the same things over and over again gets very stale. Share diverse interests. Interacting with others is another tip to use while social networking. By doing so, more of your personality shines through. Lastly, taking everything too seriously on social media is a big mistake. “At the end of the day, Twitter is all about conversations, shared interests and relationships. It’s shouldn’t be overanalyzed.” Following these tips helps create a personal profile in a professional way.
Having an online profile is important for building business, connecting with clients and keeping in touch. Over posting may make one seem unproductive though, and adding the wrong pictures or making crude posts could lead to thoughts of unprofessionalism.
When Facebook started it was keg pictures and poking – and now it’s one of the first places employers go when they want to find out more about you. According to a new report by On Device Research, one in 10 young people have been rejected from a job because of the content of their social media profiles (Knibbs).
After losing his job due to post on Facebook, Ryan learned the importance of censoring his activity on social media (and turning his phone off before going barhopping.) He deleted his Facebook and created a new one that was more professional. Eventually, after more interviews, he found a job that was never compromised by his social networking activity. Ryan learned his lesson. He learned that blurring the lines between professional and personal lives is easy, so it is extremely important to be aware of online activity. What is shared or posted on social networking sites should be taken seriously as it can have a positive as well as a negative impact on one’s career and everyday life.
“Facebook and professionalism: What you should know.” The College of Education. The University of Texas at Austin, 2013. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.
Akalp, Nellie. “How to Balance Your Personal and Professional Lives on Twitter.” Mashable. Mashable, 2013. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
Fox, Zoe. “10 Online Activities That Dominate Americans’ Days.” Mashable.com. Mashable, 15 Aug. 2013. Web. 6 Dec. 2013.
Garone, Elizabeth. “Can social media get you fired?” BBC.com. BBC, 26 June 2013. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
Greysen, S. Ryan, Terry Kind, and Katherine C. Chretien. “Online Professionalism and the Mirror of Social Media.” US National Library of Medicine (2010): n. pag. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
Knibbs, Kate. “New study says people still don’t understand their online lives can cost them their real jobs.” Digital Trends. Designtechnica Corporation, 2013. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.