The Millennial’s Guide To Social Media: How Many Cat Pics Are Too Many?

catI’ve been sitting here for roughly 5 minutes wondering how narcissistic I seem with a giant photo of my face on the landing page of my blog. To be honest, I chose that particular photo because it’s the only professional one I have. Though I have to say, I would be lying if I told you that the branding element of plastering my face on the internet didn’t cross my mind. It’s exciting when people know who I am after reading something I’ve written or watching one of my video blogs.

Now back to the professional aspect of my photo, and how this gave me the idea for my first topic: Millennials on Social Media. I’m sure plenty of millennials who are friends with coworkers on Facebook or followed by coworkers on Twitter, wonder if their content is appropriate. You may have thought “can I post a picture of myself at a bar? Can I tweet about my date last night? Will my manager stop following me if I post too many pics of my cat?”

When choosing this photo to post online I took the safe route, as I am dressed professionally while (pretending to be) super excited about a (nonexistent) presentation, while typing on a laptop (that isn’t even mine). I took this route because lately there have been several instances where I’ve had to take a step back and wonder whether I’m being professional enough on my social media channels. My channels of choice are Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter.

In addition to the above questions (although I admit, I don’t have a cat, so I just post pics of Internet cats) I have been asking myself about the ratio of personal to professional tweets that I should be composing. Several people chose to follow me specifically for the blogs and articles I write for work. Should I ONLY be tweeting professionally? Will they unfollow me if I tweet about my personal life? Should I maintain two separate Twitters? That sounds like too much work to me. But I’m no expert on this topic, and would love to hear other peoples’ opinions.

Here’s my opinion:  It’s a good thing to let your personality shine through. I think this keeps content interesting for others to read, allows you to bond with your followers by sharing a bit of your personal life, and allows you to be yourself. It’s important to feel comfortable. As long as it’s appropriate, I think that sharing both personal and professional content is completely fine. Although, make sure one side doesn’t begin to overwhelm the other.

Facebook.

I’m friends with several coworkers on Facebook and I love it. I enjoy getting to know my coworkers, seeing pictures of their families, and forming an even better idea of what their personalities are like. I work with some awesome people. Do other people feel the same way? I get mixed reactions when I ask people whether or not they’re friends with their coworkers on Facebook. Some people say they want to keep their personal and professional lives completely separate. Some people say they’re willing to add coworkers who are on the same “level” as they are. Some people don’t use Facebook enough to care because they don’t post anything anyway.

If you’re friends with your coworkers on Facebook like I am, what’s the line there? Sometimes I find myself neglecting to post content that I otherwise would. Would it be bad to post a picture of the delicious alcoholic beverage I ordered? Should I 100% refrain from using language that could be considered inappropriate? Can I post photos where I’m in a bathing suit at the beach?  I don’t know the answers to these questions, but sometimes I find myself wondering if it’s necessary to hold back. Could Facebook posts lose the respect of your coworkers or cost you a job? These notions seem a bit ridiculous to me, especially because I hardly post anything controversial. However, I think these questions often go through the minds of millennials. I know this because I am a millennial. I also trade thoughts, ideas, and experiences with other millennials on a daily basis.

Here’s my suggestion after pondering these questions: Use the relationships you have with your coworkers in the work environment as an indicator of what would be appropriate to share on Facebook.  It’s also important to understand that what people read on Facebook shapes their perception of whoever it is that posted it. For instance if you would gab with your manager about last night’s Bachelor episode like I do, it’s probably safe to update your status about who got that final rose. If you wouldn’t gab with your manager about the fact that you got plastered last Tuesday night, it’s probably not safe to upload pics of you taking Jägerbombs. Disclaimer: that second example isn’t a true story. I don’t even like Jäger.

To Wrap Things Up…

As I finish my first post I find myself wishing that I gave more advice and asked less questions. I would love to be able to take my experiences and give other millennials advice that would truly benefit them. I’m hoping to do more of this in future blog posts. I think asking questions can be equally important, though. It allows others to think, it sparks ideas, and I HOPE that it facilitates discussion.

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