Recently, someone asked on Twitter whether there was any real value in keeping their LinkedIn profile and it started a conversation. You can read the threaded conversation here.
A few people weighed into the conversation and who provided their own recommendations of what to do based on their own experiences of the social media platform.
Someone even said that a LinkedIn profile is effectively replacing the CV which for all intents and purposes, you can see this happening and it makes sense.
Now let’s get something straight. I’m a social media hussy.
I’ve been on many of the social media platforms and LinkedIn was one of the first platforms I created a profile on. The second platform was my blog (I’ve had two – a personal and professional one) and the third was Facebook.
I’ve shared multiple posts, photos, videos, infographics, podcasts, dreams,….you name it. I know when I’m ready to leave this earth, these memories are likely to be played back to me as the VR visor gets placed over my head and the injection goes into my arm and I slowly turn cold. I can relive the thousands of photos and video memories I have shared across social media and die in peace….
I have bits of me scattered across the internet…
For over thirteen or so years, I’ve been sharing bits of my life across these platforms and ever since the demise of Google RSS readers, I’ve noticed that the social media platforms have effectively taken over our lives. Where I used to share on my blog and have people comment on it, now the platforms want us to create profiles and share OUR content on these.
As a result, what I’ve ended up doing is publish all my content on my blog (where I own it because I pay for the domain name and the service) and then share across the platforms. However, what happens is that conversations are happening everywhere and I have to stay on top of it all by accessing multiple social networks just to keep up!
In that time, I’ve come up with a few lessons that I’d like to share here.
Lessons in Social Media Life
(1) There is No Right Or Wrong Way in How You Use Social Media
Just because someone uses it THEIR way doesn’t mean that you have to do the same.
Similarly, don’t pay attention to people who say “Instagram is for photos”, “Facebook is for family” etc.
In truth, they can be anything YOU want them to be. You can use them in any way YOU want.
The reason that we are laying “some rules” around these is that we’re trying to create some semblance of order in our life and this is just another way of doing it. Truth be told, I do this too however but it’s a zero sum game. As social media morphs and evolves, it means that I’m constantly trying to keep control of all the platforms I’m on. My energies are scattered and reach a point where I start to question whether the social network has any value for me and how I can delete it.
Also, most of these platforms also “don’t talk to each other” in that, they try to lock you into their own ecosystem because they want you to stay with them. You also can’t find what you’re looking for easily, you cannot effectively filter content and you get the feeling that you’re on the platform just because everyone else is.
This should never be the reason to get on a social media platform but unfortunately they make it hard for us to leave because of this expectation.
(2) You Don’t Need to Be On Social Media to be On Social Media
This is something I grappled with when I read Cal Newport’s book Deep Work. I didn’t understand how someone could knock back social media especially when platforms like Twitter were so critical in helping me build new networks and relationships.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand what he was trying to say in the book and after doing a search on LinkedIn for Cal Newport (no, he doesn’t have a profile), I began to question “if it’s good enough for Cal, why isn’t it good enough for others?”
Why is it that he can knock back social media but if I didn’t have a social media profile, I would be considered a dinosaur, archaic, backwards? I may be PREVENTED from going for a job because recruiters cannot find my LinkedIn profile. That is, they’d JUDGE me based on whether I was on social media NOT on my work.
How is that right in anyone’s world?
Why is it that there are many people out there in the world doing wonderful work but for whatever reason choose NOT to have a social media account? Has this prevented them in engaging in communities and networks or finding work?
They may have simply discovered other ways of engaging with networks and private online communities and getting their work out into the world in other ways through their blogs or websites; events and shows; maybe they’ve written books; published articles in other media. Maybe, they are friends with highly connected people who don’t have social media accounts? Maybe there’s a reason why they prefer NOT to be public – maybe they are part of a culture where they cannot share who they are openly?
It’s their right to choose NOT to be on social media but why are we judging them because they don’t fit with our standards of how we use social media?
If anything, you don’t need to be on social media to be on social media. Why? Because if you do great work, your work will be TALKED ABOUT by others. You will have a reputation and you will be known for it.
THAT’s what is important. Not because you happen to have a LinkedIn profile.
(3) Social Media Represents Different Aspects of Ourselves
I’ve struggled a lot trying to understand why I prefer some social networks over others.
By far, the most instrumental medium which challenged me (to learn and connect with people) was Snapchat. I found that this medium represented me warts and all. I felt safe to share my thoughts and reflections here and in the process, make some friendships (and even collaborations) with people whom I would never have otherwise met. Snapchat is as close to the real life me you’ll get.
Initially, I used to share a lot of personal aspects on Facebook but ever since it went rogue in recent years, a feed full of adverts and many of my family and friends leaving it, I’ve shared less on it to the point of hardly going into it anymore because I miss seeing my friends posts. Twitter on the other hand has been an exceptional platform that has built my personal learning network over the years – and once again – many of my network I can now call my friends having met them in person or online.
Over the years, I have constantly maintained that WYSIWYG on social media.
One identity – ME – across the platforms as opposed to a “professional” site versus a “personal site”.
I find it difficult to separate parts of myself and my passions/interests and hobbies across the networks because in all honesty, that’s me! I’m someone who loves Learning and Development but who also likes to knit, read and post Inspirobot inspirational quotes. I like to use the social media to express the whimsical aspects of myself because that’s who I am.
Some months ago, I sat down and thought about the various platforms I’m on and my “level of real versus fake me” – this is what I came up with…
The real me is the person you’ll meet in person or see on Snapchat. My blog (this one) what started with blogging about work related matters of learning and development has become an expression of my voice, my experiments, my learning projects and reflections. My YouTube account is effectively a visual portfolio of my blog if you can’t be bothered reading…
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s no need for me to be on Instagram but I chose this platform to experiment with my alter ego avatar where I pretend to be a luddite Foreign Correspondent Sharon (Don’t Call Me Shazza) Breaknews.
It allows me to be truly creative on this platform because I couldn’t simply meld the REAL ME with a fake personality on the one account.
In some way, I’m using Shazza as the way of full creative licence and experimental ground for my work. This is where I share my videos, create content using apps that I experiment with and try out then share it on Instagram.
I needed to create an avatar on a separate account because I knew people would simply not understand the experiments under my own name and account – and I know would have detrimented my work and also peoples perception of my professionalism.
So in conclusion, my biggest lesson for me is that I should NEVER JUDGE based on whether or not someone has a social media account or not but instead, look to their WORK and most of all their REPUTATION by asking other people.
I also look at who they are as people – whether they have outside interests or hobbies; how they use the internet to improve their work and practices (whether they’re continual and lifelong learners and creators).
If anything, it means that I have to be the one to work harder to find these wonderful people who are hidden away in my own network and make the effort to connect with them in ways that are not as simple as clicking “Follow” or “Connect”
It’s not that they don’t want to be on social media – it’s just that they’re actually focused on doing good work and networking in other more personable and real ways – and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.