Social Media – The Making And Breaking Of Careers

Now if you have taken some time out of your day to read this article, firstly, I thank you. Secondly, it is more than likely that you have used some sort of social media platform today, heck you’ve probably used one in the last 5 minutes, you may have even found my writing or the sound of your voice in your own head so incredibly boring that you took my thank you and have now reverted back to sharing a picture of a dog doing hop-scotch on your chosen social media.

Still with me? Cool.

Many social media channels as well as Twitbook and Face-er, or whatever they’re called, have grown significantly over the last 3-5 years, both in terms of subscribers and how often said subscribers use social media. They allow you to keep in contact and build relationships with people, enable friends to see where you are and what you’re doing, brag/show how much you are in the gym and what you are going to eat afterwards, interact with your favourite celebrities, see the latest news and job advertisements and if your name is not HMV the majority of the worlds biggest businesses utilise it to drive traffic to their website and get a better understanding of their audience.

Social media is a big business in itself and has become a staple of our everyday lives. In general, society seems to have accepted this, but there are still people out there struggling to get to grips with just how big an impact social media can have on your life, particularly your career.

It only takes a matter of seconds to view an individuals profile or account; social media can act as a background check or even a reference before a reference. For example if you were to check my Twitter feed (WARNING: shameless plug coming up) @rossellis15, you would find that most of my tweets are centered on sport and Alan Partridge quotes, this may give a prospective employer an idea of the type of person I am and where my interests lie.

One of the latest to fall to the social media faux pas is that of youth police and crime commissioner, Paris Brown. When it was confirmed that she would take up her role, interest quickly grew from both the general public and the media.

After a quick search it was found her tweets contained homophobic and racist connotations with a whole load of profanities thrown in for good measure. Much of this was probably down to a naive 17-year-old girl who was trying to show too much bravado through social media, a common mistake. But, she later resigned from the post before she had even started as she was in an untenable position. One of the most shocking revelations within the case was that her social media wasn’t checked in the recruitment process.

However, it is not just 17-year-old girls getting social media wrong. Top officials at international companies to professional athletes at sports clubs have all been shown the door through their poor decision-making and miss-use of social media.

Even juggernauts such as Burger King and Starbucks have had social media campaigns backfire. Burger King gained many more followers due to having its account hacked and having the mickey taken out of them on their own Twitter feed. While Starbucks should have thought a bit longer when deciding to show tweets on their in-store screens by using a certain #hashtag, many customers decided to take aim with them regarding their tax evasion.

However, it’s always better when stories have a happy ending and there are ways to use social media to your advantage. Twitter has many hilarious parody or unique accounts, which have found a certain niche for them. One account that I really shouldn’t find funny, but just do is @stuffonmyrabbit. This account is pretty self-explanatory, yet it has amassed over 300,000 followers! You’ll understand my shock after you’ve been on the account. So simple, yet so clever.

Whilst browsing my Twitter feed earlier in the week, I came across a football account I follow which releases stats, analysis etc. and goes by the name of @squawka, another account I follow which performs a similar role, but in a more comedic and informal way is @matchofthedave. Squawka has over twice the amount of followers of matchofthedave, yet they have been so impressed with his content and the amount of followers he has obtained through his individual work that they have offered him a job on their social media team, despite having never met the guy in person. The power of the Internet! You can view the conversation by following the two accounts.

With an increasing number of businesses pumping resources into social media and forming their own dedicated teams, social media is showing just how strong a tool it can be and how integral it is in today’s society. It has the capability to help make you a career, but it can also break that career just as quickly. So kids, anticipate before you update and think before you tweet if you want to stay on top of your social media game.

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