The lovely lady in the top row, two in from the left is my mother. She's now 88 years old. This was her High School yearbook photo in 1944.
I use this picture when I speak on social media to illustrate an important point that most people- especially the younger generation - forget. The internet is FOREVER!
To further illustrate my point you need to understand something: my mother has never used a computer, never been on Facebook and never posted a picture on Instagram.
We are constantly bombarded by "oversharers" on social media. Granted, it's more prevalent on certain networks - Facebook in particular. But it's still an issue.
The running joke among my colleagues when we see a flurry of posts from a friend is "Joe must be bored," or "Joe's wife must be out of town."
For college students in particular, they feel the need to share every little detail of their lives. While I understand the desire to tag friends at parties, complain about difficult professors or bemoan a lost love, I emphasize to them that while this seems SO important at the time, the reality is it will follow them around for the rest of their lives.
Employers don't just check out LinkedIn profiles, they also look at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get a feel for who the candidate is, and aspects of their character that ultimately can affect their ability to do the job.
I have a colleague who is a business coach who will never be photographed with a drink in her hand. She even goes as far as to ask others around her to put down their glasses before a picture is taken.
Extreme? Perhaps, but the principle is a good one. Representing your brand is so much more difficult today than it was 15 years ago.
A side note: social media is also instantaneous and therefore prone to misconceptions. When a very famous celebrity passed away recently, I first found out through a post on Facebook. At the time, no mainstream media sources had reported the information. Several internet sites claimed it was a hoax. Eventually it was determined to be true. But what if it had been a hoax, and I reposted without determining the truth?
For businesses, brands, job seekers and others, remember what you say on the net, not only stays on the net, but will be repeated over and over again AND will be discoverable for a long time.
Chuck Hester is the Chief Communications Officer for Big Think Innovation, a business architect consultancy that helps companies plan, grow and build their futures. He is also a LinkedIn trainer and speaker, helping businesses get the most out of LinkedIn, while teaching them how to communicate effectively. Contact him directly at email@example.com.
Need help with LinkedIn? Feel free to message Chuck and ask about one-on-one and group LinkedIn Executive Training.