THE BLOG
06/05/2014 10:00 am ET

The Fading Lines Between Social Networks And What it Means For Our World

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Vine -- OMG! It's all very exciting and totally overwhelming at the same time. The opportunities in today's social networking world are many and will only grow in the future. This is why it's a great time for girls to step forward in STEM careers.

I'm a true believer that connectivity and access to mobile devices, both of which power the world to be informed, will make for a massive shift in businesses and bring the rich and the poor closer together. Here are some facts to support this view:

  • The IMF recently released data highlighting that for the first time ever, the combined GDP of poor countries exceeds that of rich ones (adjusting for purchasing price parity).
  • Social networks are highly successful tools for large businesses to showcase their brands. Conversely, consumers and business decision makers have a powerful voice to be reckoned with through social networks.

But how can we manage the craziness of an online presence? Here is my take on self discipline in the social networking world:

  • It's OK to blur the lines professionally and personally if done responsibly: The rule: "Facebook = friends" and "LinkedIn = colleagues" is fading. Businesses are utilizing both for their online brands, and individual expression and personality is compelling for employers. I have no issue with a LinkedIn profile photo that isn't a typical business headshot. And, furthermore, I think it's great when my LinkedIn connections share links that have nothing to do with their jobs. My Twitter account is also a mix of personal and business interests. Of course, everyone should use social media responsibly -- for me this means -- among other things -- posting in good taste, respecting others and following the rules of the social media sites and my employer.
  • Actively manage your online presence: We are no longer in the days of "today's newspaper headline: tomorrow's trashcan." Content you publish today will attach to your personal online brand for a very long time. Perform an online search of yourself and report any questionable content. Secure your About.me page for yourself and your children before someone else does. Ask yourself the question: If a stranger or a potential employer read this post, would I be proud? If not, think twice before posting. On the flip side, think about what it means to express your personality, beliefs and successes through your online presence. It's a differentiator!
  • Have fun online but also do good: Everyone loves to see their favorite celeb's latest tweet and posts of silly photos with friends. Imagine a world, though, where for every "fun" post there was a post that helped the world's most vulnerable population -- the impact that can have on awareness, fundraising and advocacy is exponential. Reference Ashton Kutcher's recent speech: "The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart. And being thoughtful. And being generous"

Three years ago Girl Up, a campaign I support through the AT&T European Women's Network, was made up of 10,000 young girls advocating on the social networks for marginalized girls in developing countries. Today, I'm so proud to see these young advocates are more than 400,000 strong and span more than 30 countries! Did you know that it was these girls and their petition to congress that helped move the Child Marriage Act to reality? Now that's the power of connectivity, social networking and "doing good." Let's use our forces to do more of that.

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