Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, you name it: every social media outlet we engage in affects us professionally. Yes, my potential employers can see all of my selfies with dogs and my skating pictures (yikes), but maybe that’s not all that bad. Alexandra Chang, a freelance journalist in the area, visited my social media journalism class yesterday to tell us all about her firsthand experience with social media. A former tech writer for Wired, Chang is totally up-to-date on internet culture and all those nifty apps and gadgets that professional journalists engage with every day.
“The personal and professional are inseparable,” says Chang, who herself is guilty of tweeting about this hilariously cold polar vortex which we are choosing to live in, as well as interacting normally with her friends (yes Alexandra, I stalked you a little bit). However, she is an advocate for balance and remaining mostly professional.
Her example of what not to do on social media comes from this guy. Mat Honan, Chang’s colleague at Wired, is very…colorful…on social media (that’s putting it lightly). Chang shared an article with us where he acknowledged his openness and says that considering his internet background check conducted by Gizmodo, he may never work again. But for now, he is employed and continues to tweet audacious and inappropriate things because he can get away with it. Why wouldn’t he? (You can read his article here.)
Still, Chang advises young and budding journalists like ourselves to air on the conservative side. Don’t be like Mat. At least for now. We can’t all be Twitter celebrities.
However, if you’re all work and no play on social media, will your employer think you’re weird? Will your audience keep reading? It’s important to show your personality and be relatable. It keeps the readers reading and makes them more apt to engage with you.
So what did I take from this?
1. Tweet back. Interact with other journalists and your audience.
2. Don’t be afraid to be a little silly (weather tweets are welcome, especially in Ithaca).
3. And don’t be stupid.