I started my company, Utoria, when I was only 13, and my mom has always given me guidelines about what I should and shouldn't be posting on social media. However, through speaking to audiences of peers, I've realized that most of you don't have similar situations. The majority of young adults' tweets, snaps, vines, and posts (that I've seen) look worse than Amanda Bynes does walking into a courthouse. Also see: train wreck.
Maybe it's because some of you don't realize how what you can say online can impact you. Maybe you don't care. Or maybe you do and you're reading this thinking, "I'm glad she's not talking about me." Either way you need to read what I'm about to say. Help me spread awareness so we can cure OCD: Online Compulsive Disorder.
As a 16 year-old girl, but also as a CEO, I must say that I love social media. You could even consider it a slight obsession. That being said, I love meeting new people, finding information and keeping up with trends online. (LIKE #SHARKWEEK! OMG!) But as Mr. Mark Cuban -- famous entrepreneur, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star of Shark Tank on ABC -- once said on Shark After Dark, "Anything that is that powerful must be feared as well as admired." Same goes for social media.
Now speaking to you as a CEO, the first thing I do when anyone wants to work with me or for me is Google their name. When you Google anyone's name some of the first things that will appear in the search results is their social media profiles. Employers are going to want to see what you're saying online. Your Twitter feed could mean the difference between you getting your dream job and, well, not.
Even outside of employers, certain extra curricular programs, scholarship programs, colleges and other organizations you want to be involved in may also look at your social media presence. And don't be mistaken, that will include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Google+, Pinterest and more.
So in light of your newfound social media enlightenment, I've put together some tips below to make sure you'll never have any social media ghosts that can come back to haunt you.
- Develop an "identity". i.e. Frequent posts about fashion and style will make people associate you with that topic.
- Set boundaries with friends and online peers. If you're upfront with people in your life about what you're okay and not okay with posting online, there's going to be less damage-control for you to do after the fact.
- Smile in pictures. People who smile are attractive.
- Post things that you wouldn't mind your mama seeing.
- Use your accounts to post your own opinions and contribute to topics and online communities.
- Be aware of who may look at what your posting. Now and forever.
- Post personal information. Not only for your protection, but also to show that you're mature and can be taken seriously.
- Post about illegal or inappropriate activities you participate in. EVER. Private or public profile. Posts can be spread by photo.
- Duck face. Just don't.
- Post "your mama" jokes. Or other things your mama would find offensive.
- Say things that could be found offensive, rude, or immature.
- Mention people or organizations in a negative way that could be mistaken as slander. No matter who it is. EVER.