I never understood the idiom “like a broken record”, because it refers to repeating yourself over and over, when most of the time it is the turntable to blame often due to a faulty needle. I guess “sounding like a broken turntable” does not have the same connective qualities to the listener. So when I talk about the wide chasm between real good and real bad when it comes to social media management, the record itself (me) is not broken at all, and using a different turntable (context) makes it play just fine. Normally, I talk about social media in terms of how dangerous it can be for the user.
The marketing and analytics giant Hootsuite reported last year the average user has seven social media accounts. When I ask students if they have seven or more, most of them initially say no, until I explain to them that common experts define social media as a web application that allows people to share content and network. That rolls in platforms like Youtube, Spotify, and other listener-shared content sites. It also includes other applications such as Google Drive (if settings allow), academic tracking tools, and Venmo (more on this later). In other words, it does not take too long to count to seven.
The risk of that many social media accounts is it creates what is known in cybersecurity terms as a huge “attack surface” – a place where nefarious bandits can go to either launch an attack, gather information about you to launch an attack, or find your connections to do the same to them. Thus, common sense is to go private with everything, share with only those you trust, and if public, give as little information as possible. Sometimes, the instructions on how to shut down are quite easy, and sometimes they are quite confusing, depending on the user itself. Often the default settings are set to public, and it is up to the user to change them upon their own recognition. Case in point is Venmo, the app used to transfer money. If settings are not set to private, it is possible to look up a username and see who they paid and received money from and if in the description, the reason for the transfer! If your last name is not too common (like Jabara), you may find that the entire world knows that you paid back your buddy for your $154.00 bar tab the week before (not a true story, just an example). Most people are just so excited they are getting money, when they set it up, they overlook other settings. Seriously, financial transaction information that detailed could set the user up for phishing frauds, spam campaigns, and general attacks on their privacy.
Therefore, what do I mean by the “sweet spot” for social media? For job seekers, prospective employers (especially those who require a security clearance) doing their due diligence will check your social media to see if you are saying or doing things that may be incompatible with employment. These can range from treating Facebook as a sounding board for every negative or positive feeling you’ve ever had, liking tweets from people associated with bad acts, or even, seeing large amounts of money you have transferred back and forth on Venmo.
However, given the above, that leaves you with two choices that your employer can rest their opinion on: no social media or social media that leaves a good impression of you with them. I would recommend the latter. If you list certain activities on your resume that stand out, such as user-created professional content or professional philanthropy, letting the prospective employer view your social media as corroboration is not a bad thing (however remember the internet never forgets, especially if you said something really stupid on it 10 years before). Treat the decision on what social media you use as carefully as both securing your house and making sure those that are welcome know they are invited. It is one that could compromise your privacy or help you gain employment.