In case you weren’t already aware of the far-reaching and terrifying power of social media, let’s just focus on the fact that my mom now has an Instagram account. Does she know how to use it? Not exactly, no. But she’s still there, accidentally liking photos she’s trying to zoom in on. My point? Everyone is on social media: you, me, our parents, your future employers, the Pope, Grumpycat—I could go on.
While you’re still in college, you may view your Twitter and Instagram accounts as nothing more than part of your social life and a very efficient (albeit, wildly unhealthy) way to stalk your exes. However, like it or not, social media is a pretty powerful business tool, especially in the world of media and fashion.
As someone who spends most of her free time writing about fashion, beauty, social media and the combination of all of the above, I’ve learned during my college experience—and sometimes the hard way—that the way you approach social media can either significantly hurt or help you while you’re still an undergraduate. So rather than dreading that moment when employers are looking up your social media accounts (and believe me, they will), why not look forward to it as a creative way to showcase what you’re passionate about, and a fun way to network in the meantime?
Do: Be selective.
I got an Instagram account my first year of college, and my freshman and sophomore Instagram habits pretty much involved taking pictures of everything I did and saw. Everything. Apparently I was thinking that, yes, my followers were VERY interested in viewing blurry pictures of granola and running shoes (they weren’t). The fact of the matter is, post pictures (or tweets, etc.) that are higher quality, and you automatically look more professional. They can still be fun, creative and reflect your interests, but if you only choose the best content, it will instantly set you apart from people who are less selective. End of story. Sure, post those pictures of granola and running shoes if you want, but find some good light, an interesting background and make it that much more interesting to look at. It pays off.
Don’t: Post something you wouldn’t want your mom to read or see.
This is a tough one, because it’s obvious that the world of fashion media is just a little more casual than most everything else, but at the end of that day, if you’re posting something that is going to embarrass your parents, it probably isn’t going to work to your advantage in the long run. We’ve all seen pictures posted on social media that are basically just endless combinations of subtracting clothing and adding alcohol. There’s nothing wrong with having fun responsibly, but would you really want someone who may hire you to look at your accounts and see tweets about borderline inappropriate things rather than the things that you’re really, truly passionate about? Probably not. This seems basic, but the bottom line is to take that extra second to think about things before you go ahead and send your post into the black hole that is the Internet.
Do: Reach Out.
Use social media to connect with writers of articles you liked, or your favorite style bloggers. Reach out to these people daily, and tell them how much you loved what they created. Follow as many creative, inspiring people as you can and ultimately you will end up producing content that’s that much more creative. Weed out the accounts that are negative (we all follow that one person on Twitter who only tweets about how miserable he/she is), and focus on those that motivate, inspire and challenge you. If you like what someone did, wrote or wore—tell them. Being kind, active and supportive goes a long way in social media.
Don’t: Compare Your Account To Others.
We’ve all done it. When you finally get 500 followers, you’re suddenly slightly jealous of the girl who has 5,000…and so on and so forth. Social media makes envy and jealousy very easy feelings to develop, but try to squash the green monster quickly. Social media is, at the end of the day, an amazing tool to showcase your talents, passions and interests—when you keep that fact in mind when you post, that’s when you truly can use all of your accounts to your advantage. So be selective and smart about what you’re posting, try not to get caught up in the competition and self-promotion and, of course, have a little fun along the way—that never hurts, either.
This article was written for CollegeFashionista by Olivia Muenter.