Social media platforms have an incredible reach, with Facebook alone boasting 1.94 billion monthly active users as of March 2017. What’s more, Facebook and other platforms like LinkedIn are expanding their functionality at a breakneck pace, giving businesses inspired new ways to collaborate, complete projects and connect with customers. But if you’re looking to use social media as a career booster, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
1. Social media makes you one more face in the crowd.
In an interview with Inc., Dhanusha Sivajee, Executive Vice President of Editorial and Marketing of XO Group, said, “I think it’s become harder [to find a mentor now], because […] everybody is your friend, you’re connected to everybody at all levels through LinkedIn and through social media. […] Social media is a definitely a place where you build your brand and you know people are going to look up your LinkedIn profile, so make sure that you’re well represented. But in terms of making connections, not to say that social media can’t be a jumping off point, but it does become harder to differentiate yourself and be remembered.”
2. You might be tempted to have looser lips.
A recognized problem with social media is that getting online often offers a greater sense of anonymity. That feeling of being unknown has been known to lead people to interactions that are far less kind. And while you can’t always be fired for something you post, saying whatever you want might negatively affect how potential teammates, employers and mentors view you.
3. Distraction might kill your productivity and creativity–and get you disciplined.
Facebook is powerfully distracting for a host of psychological and physiological reasons. Seeing likes adding up, for example, strokes our egos, but it also can stimulate the reward centers of the brain, resulting in the release of dopamine that makes you feel happy and relaxed. The fear of missing out also is a factor in social media use. Studies also show that people routinely access Facebook during work (particularly in the afternoons), and that work-related problems with overuse of social media are on the rise. If you can’t control the impulse to get online, you’ll likely get less done, innovate less and, potentially, create conflicts that put your job in jeopardy. None of those situations empowers you to climb the ladder and gain industry authority.
Making the most of logging in
As Sivajee asserts, social media isn’t something that you need to completely disregard. It can be a wonderful tool for promoting your business and initially locating fantastic opportunities and support. But ultimately, on the individual level, creating the meaningful relationships you need to develop a successful career requires old-fashioned phone calls, face time and supportive gestures. It takes empathy and the ability to hone in on language/tone connotations that are lost online. That said, use these tips for decreasing your social media use while increasing the influence you get from online time.
- Use applications or other tools like timers to prevent you from accessing social media during hours you should be working.
- Make sure you have separate professional and personal social media accounts.
- Provide relevant, valuable content through links to articles, blogs, etc.–people will follow you when you consistently provide entertaining, informative posts, and you’ll appear more knowledgeable the more sources you can offer.
- Avoid getting on social media right when you wake up or just before bed. The former habit won’t do you any favors given that the cognitive areas of your brain aren’t fully on board for a while, and blue light from screens can interfere with sleep.
- Consider the ways your content can be used more generally around the Internet, and don’t limit yourself to just the big social media players–think about where the content needs to be based on the viewer.
- Keep social media apps off your mobile devices or turn off the notifications. This will force you to use social media only on your laptop or desktop and reduce the temptation to constantly check in.
Since everyone’s daily habits, personalities and preferences are a little different, don’t be afraid to create a system that fits your individual needs. The key is just to remember that you need to be in control of the media, rather than having it control you. Combine that with prioritizing quality over quantity in your relationships and you’ll keep your career in good shape.