“There is no such thing as off the record.”
If you’ve ever worked with a PR person, sat near a PR person or know someone who knows a PR person, you’ve heard this message loud and clear. Yet, throughout my career, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people utter the phrase, “This is off the record, but…”
So I was not at all surprised today to find out that approximately 10% of college admissions officers consider social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace when considering who makes the collegiate cut. Check out the msnbc video that addresses the subject: Here.
Most adults participating in social networking communities probably won’t find it surprising that while a page from a social network won’t get you into college, its content could be a deciding factor in your rejection from the school of your choice. Adults deal with this all the time when applying to jobs. Most adults have learned to put their most professional face forward, leaving fun/inappropriate sites anonymous.
Shockingly, as savvy as most high school students are, many don’t know the repercussions their online lives can have on their real life. Last month I spoke to a few High School classes. I asked them two key questions:
- Is there anything on your Facebook or Myspace page you wouldn’t want your parents/teachers to see?
- Do you think that content could effect you in the future, professionally or personally?
Nearly all of the students had something on their social networking pages they didn’t want seen, and none had thought through the repercussions of that content.
I believe that part of our responsibility as members of social media communities is to educate the youth about how to use social media… and what content should be “off the record” and never posted.
Off the top of my head, important items for high school seniors to have on their social networking sites include:
- Honors clubs and educational activities
- Sports of interest
- Listing of jobs, if applicable
- Volunteer activities
- Clean/appropriate photos with friends participating in educational/family/sports related activities
- A blog, if well written, spell checked and grammar checked, focused on an application-safe passion.
High School seniors should be careful of the following social networking site mistakes:
- Spelling errors
- Inappropriate photos
- Content demonstrating a passion for partying
- Speaking negatively about anyone
- Inappropriate comments from friends
- Sending inappropriate comments to their friends
The way I see it, social networks are quickly becoming the “non-application.” Whether we as a society like it or not, we have a responsibility to put our best face forward on our pages. If you post it, expect it will be read.
And remember: There is no such thing- anywhere- as off the record.