July 16, 2008

Social Media Milestone

Posted in Facebook, Social Media at 10:12 am by R

I had a first the other day. I got my first professional friend request on Facebook.

My first thought was: “Oh wow. That’s kind of cool that Facebook is branching out like this.”

My second thought was: “Oh S***T! I’ve got to take some photos down!”

If my memory serves me correctly, Facebook made its way to Gonzaga in 2004. Which made me a junior in college. Which made me less responsible and probably less modest than I am today. And all those photos still exist on my account…

It just gave me pause, because in its beginnings, Facebook was about connecting people on campus. It was about connecting friends at other schools. Now I’m friends with publications and Public Relations pros I admire. Now I have to act with some discretion and reel in some of the snarky comments, less than flattering photos and inside joke wall posts.

And at the same time, part of me says, “No! That’s who I am, this is where I come from. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve got posted for the world to see — except that Mariah Carey costume from that Halloween party.”

I suppose we’ll see what comes of it.

Many companies use MySpace and Facebook as a form of background check. Will clients and media do the same? Will it impact who they choose to work with?

There are two old sayings that come to mind as I think about the consequences of my on-line life and representation:

  1. A picture is worth a thousand words. (Or in my case several Mariah Carey albums)
  2. Your friends are a reflection of you. (Note to my nearest and dearest: can we collectively edit the photos we’ve posted and only leave the ones that are (mostly) respectable?)

It used to be that Facebook profiles had an air of privacy, some exclusivity to them. Now, it’s clear they are public forum, and as such available to public scrutiny that may have bearing on our careers.

Compared to many, I’m sure that my profile is tame. But it might be time to take the “Ass Hat” pin down from my pieces of flair application…sad.



  1. Meghann Will said,

    Quite the quandary…I agree.

    Now you can understand why I furiously untagged every photo of myself from New Year’s Eve…!

  2. Martha Watt said,

    I agree, completely, that you have to take that into consideration (that real people that might consider hiring you will judge your character on the stuff you post).
    After all, you’re the brand, now. If your ‘drunken college’ brand, that’s going to impact your job prospects (unless you want to work for Maxxim, or Axe, maybe).
    I’m lucky that I joined facebook as a grownup (a mommy, even). And I work for an ecumenical organization, and I have some exposure to other facebook groups as a rep. of the national (denominational) office, so I really do have to be careful of levels of access that photos get.
    Having said all that: have you considered LinkedIn as a professional networking tool?

  3. Jenine LaFayette said,

    Great post, and I definitely have had the same internal debate when my professional contacts find my boardline unprofessional facebook account. There’s only so much untagging that I can do!

    That’s why I can truly appreciate sites like LinkedIn or MyRagan that are entirely professional connections. I can have my cake and eat it too… and leave the picture of me eatting it untouched on FB.

    ~ jl ~

  4. Robyn,

    My facebook profile is private, though I suspect there are ways of paying and accessing whatever they want, but I keep my facebook profile for my leisure, and utilize my linkedin profile as my professional networking tool. I sincerely doubt I’m missing out on too many connections in that regard.

    And while I agree you probably don’t need photos of you doing kegstands, a photo with a beer in your hand shouldn’t make a bit of difference to a future/current employer. Certainly what you do on your time is a reflection of who you are, but I’m quite capable of taking a different person (and approach) to work than the one that attends Thursday night Happy Hour.

    If a company doesn’t like that, perhaps I don’t want to work for them anyway.

  5. I’m on myspace and I definitely do censor what I write and the photos I post. I also, have 4 myspaces… one personal for my friends and 3 professional (all photography related).

    BUT I mostly started censoring because I found out my mom was reading it. AND I’m glad she started because people totally judge you based on your myspace.

    I used to work for a company that did extensive internet background checks on potential employees. One day a guy was coming in for an interview and that morning my boss had found his myspace. It was about killing people and hatred. It definitely changed her views on him before the interview. After his interview she showed it a few co-workers but he had gone home and quickly changed it. He must of realized that anyone could read it!

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