I have to be on the cutting edge to successfully perform many of my duties as digital editor for ChemicalProcessing.com. Sure, writing is writing is writing but the way stories are disseminated is constantly evolving.
By now nearly everyone has heard of or participated on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Even my 70-something-years-old mother has a Facebook page and quickly learned how to navigate it, thus launching her into the same party as folks decades younger than she. The reason she finally signed up for Facebook? I convinced her it's the best way to stay in touch and know what's going on in my life without feeling like she's prying.
One of the main reasons my mom stayed off Facebook for so long was the fear of being exposed to identity thieves and not-so-nice people out to take advantage of her. I reassured her that if she followed a few basic rules of sharing, she'd be just fine.
The same notions go for Chemical Processing's social media avenues — Facebook (http://facebook.com/ChemicalProcessingMagazine), Twitter (http://twitter.com/Chem_Processing) and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/ChemProcess). To help you better navigate social media sites, here are three valuable rules:
1.) Don't post what you wouldn't share with your grandmother. While it's easy to fall prey to the moment and want to post a titillating comment peppered with expletives and blush-inducing remarks, leave that talk for face-to-face encounters where a paper trail doesn't exist. You wouldn't want a potential employer, client or business associate to see that and paint the wrong picture of you. For those of you that would share such stories with grandma, ask yourself if you would include these tidbits on your resume.
2.) Resist the urge to connect to anyone and everyone in your universe. Think quality over quantity. The essence of social media is to be a part of the lives of people who can help you achieve a goal, whether professional or personal. And in turn, you provide the same for them. I'm not saying that you shouldn’t connect to a person who can't get you a job or a good deal on products. What I am saying is that you should have something in common with your connections.
3.) Don't wear out your welcome. Once you've connected with folks, don't feel the need to comment on every single thing they post. If you do, you risk being labeled a virtual stalker and may find yourself knocked off their list of friends. If you can't offer thoughtful or helpful input, don't offer any at all. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Everyone is entitled to make a casual observation or silly comment once in a while, but remember less is more.
Bonus tip: Make sure your privacy settings are in line with what you want to do on the site. If you are looking to network and find a job, you may want to be less stringent in your privacy practices. If you are planning on being a casual observer, you may want to close the curtain on what non-friends can see.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing'ssenior digital editor and social-media maven. You can e-mail her at email@example.com.