I have to admit, I was not a big fan of social media sites. I didn’t find them very useful but recently I have been shown the ways of the force. (Star Wars) I have been educated and opened to their purpose and potential. In an earlier post, I said that HR professionals are often times too reactionary to technology. We don’t think of ways to use it to help our businesses, and employees fast enough. Our initial reaction to new technology is to create a policy and find ways to limit or ban it. In the case of social media, I was guilty of that kind of thinking.
There are several social media sites, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, foursquare, LinkedIn, digg, YouTube, and more. (here’s a list)  I am not going to break down the top ones  but I will say MySpace has been losing members and hits, to the tune of more than 2 million a month. Facebook is the most popular of them all but they are seeing a much slower decline. (here’s a chart) 

 Twitter is growing steadily, which is ironic because until lately I felt it was the most useless one. Yeah, I said it, I’ll admit, I was not a Twitter fan, didn’t want to tweet, and didn’t understand why people cared about what Snooki was doing today. That was my short sidedness. Not too long ago someone told me, I need to get a Twitter account in order to be connected and network. Man oh man, were they right! It has unlocked a wealth of information and knowledge. It’s expanded my blog and put SME’s (subject matter experts) at my fingertips. The amount of positive information is out there and there are helpful people out there that will work with you. Twitter is all about who you decide to follow. By following people who do what you want to do, you can create a tremendous network community and bounce ideas off of them and get great feedback.
After reading article and article about social media and how people are losing their jobs because of the content of their postings, I decided to research people who received jobs by using those same sites.  And it’s true, lots of people are getting jobs because of their Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook connections. The key is to keep it professional and network. You are going to see more and more companies will ask you if you have a social media account. They are not looking to find a way to disqualify you; they are trying to find innovative ways to recruit talent. They are trying to find ways to reach out to customers and sure, they will also use it to make assessments. Its smart business, you have to change with the times, there will be online interviews through social media, I am sure of it so get ready.
If you are asked about having an account I wouldn’t lie about it because they could search by name or email address. Its not having an account, its the content of the material on the account that may cause you to miss an oppurtunity. Your content may not be in alignment with their social media policy or offensive.  Politically incorrect posts, pictures, organizations or tags could cost you. When you have an online profile that is your brand, which is your identity to the world. If you like salacious stories, rumors and entertainment information fine, you might want to have two accounts, one for business and one for dirt, unless dirt is your business and where you make your money then hell, go for it. Remember nothing is truly anonymous, things you send and post can be tracked. So if you don’t know, now you know!