Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Making the Most out of Social Media

For better or for worse, social media has certainly become the foundation upon which our social interactions lay. However, this does not mean that we must rely on pictures of Kelvin-filtered Starbucks drinks and lists of “23 Cats Who are Tired of Humans” in order to engage with others. Instead, we are challenged to find ways to make social media as gratifying as other forms of communication.
The sure-fire way to clean up your social media act is sadly, to purge your friends list. Although we’d all like to make miniature celebrities out of ourselves, having too many friends with whom you never interact is going to make your social media relationships worthless. Instead, try to focus on those who are most central to your life, and those whom you have the most in common with. You may want to keep a few extraneous friends - friends who you haven’t seen for years but post the most interesting articles or have the best photos of their family vacations. But you should give yourself the push to delete your old high school crush whose feed hasn’t been updated in months.
One key friend to unfollow is the over-sharer, who floods your feed with post after post of personal information that makes you feel as though you’re invading their personal space. You will also want to unfollow the anger-invoking friend, whose posts generate unproductive comment wars. These friends will hike up your stress, and have minimal positive engagements to contribute. You may also want to unfollow the friends whose largest contributions are cute photos of their pets or posts about the weather happening right outside your window. As keen as you may be on having the maximum number of friends, remember that quality trumps quantity and you will not miss what doesn’t pop up on your feed.
Who should we follow on social media? Be sure to keep friends with thoughtful engagements, interesting links that you wouldn’t normally come across, and those who appear successful on the site. You should continue to follow those who contribute positively to your own feed. You want to follow those who are social and committed to those who follow them, not those who are egocentric and looking only for one-way admiration.
Don’t forget that these sites are not just for personal accounts - you should also profit from following TIME or the New York Times or any groups affiliated with proper news and other information. You may even want to make separate accounts to track important news, or build up credibility for networking later on in the job hunt. Being social isn’t only about mindless communication, but can set you up for success in the future.
Another way to be successful on social media is to learn a lesson from those who are doing it wrong; posting personal information, anger-invoking or upsetting posts, or anything that could generate a negative response, is best avoided. As happy as you may be with  your bathroom mirror-poses or your adorable shih tzu, they have no place in social media. Have you ever stumbled upon a post from three years ago and been immediately horrified that you would share such a thing? Do your future self a favor and think long and hard before sharing what could later be seen as compromising. Although social media is a great way to post anything you may come across, keep in mind that it is permanent, and your integrity could be on the line.
Clean up your social media act by posting thoughtful links that you’ll enjoy reminiscing on later. Be sure to thoughtfully engage on your feed, hitting “like” or “share” on the content you enjoy, and making efforts to eliminate the content you don’t. Interact one-on-one with those who intrigue you most, allowing for fruitful interactions to develop. Transform whining statuses into posts seeking advice, forming a more productive means of correspondence. Ask yourself, how do I want to portray myself on this site? What am I trying to get across to those who follow me?
And finally, the most obvious benefit of social media that tends to get neglected - actually being social. Don’t forget that social media is yours to take advantage of. Instead of bottling up reactions to what you see, or refraining from interacting for fear that it’s not your place, be sure to engage. Don’t be afraid to take an active role in social media. 

With all these ideas in mind, Savvy Student wishes you luck in making the most of social media sites!