Mute annoying posts and other expert advice on common social media dilemmas


A great personal social media presence can earn you business, get you job offers, and even lead to a new career. — 123rf

MINNEAPOLIS: Experts talk about navigating social media after a tumultuous year that left many of us wondering what "friend" really means.

Q. I can't handle a relative's posts anymore. Unfriend or block?

A. A third option: Mute them. Unfortunately, it's not something you can do over a holiday meal, but you can achieve this in the digital world. Muting helps you avoid the awkward confrontations that potentially come from unfriending or blocking while enabling you to keep your sanity.

Q. If you notice someone has blocked or unfriended you, should you call them out?

A. If it's your mom, that's up to you. If it's someone you sat next to in high school chemistry and haven't talked to since, maybe consider it a blessing? Try not to take it personally.

Q. Should you keep your friend list curated or is it OK to have an open-door policy?

A. One of the best things about social media is that you can make it fit your needs. If you benefit from an open-door policy, say, you're a real estate agent, then go for it!

Q. I love my child's teacher. Is it OK to be Facebook friends?

A. The level of comfort of becoming Facebook friends will differ per teacher. Also, keep in mind that the school may have a social media policy in place that they must follow. If you're still wanting to friend them, it doesn't hurt to ask the teacher directly (or become their friend in real life). Your child is only with them for a year, so you have to ask yourself if it's worth doing.

Q. Following my teen's friends on social media, yes or no?

A. If you choose to follow your teen or their friends on social media, they'll probably know it's you and will adjust their privacy settings accordingly. So, you might as well not do it at all. But if you think it's necessary as a parent, again, that's a personal judgment call.

Q. With Snapchat, fake Instagram accounts and who knows what else, it's getting hard monitor my teen. Any advice?

A. You may not be able to always watch what they're doing but you can at least watch their screen time. But since screens won't be disappearing anytime soon, you could try channelling the screen time into something more positive. Is your teen interested in video? Help them create videos (which could be shared on YouTube or made just for fun). Are they obsessed with TikTok? Offer to be in one of their videos, or help them brainstorm ideas.

Another thing you can do is join a Facebook group such as "Parenting in a Tech World," where other parents can offer advice and solutions for specific challenges you face now and into the future.

Q. Do employers check social media accounts for prospective employees?

A. Yes. This is especially true if your job involves social media. They might notice your content creation skills, whether photography, videography, design or writing. Otherwise, they might check just to get a sense of who you are.

Q. How can personal social media posts affect your professional life?

A. A great personal social media presence can earn you business, get you job offers, and even lead to a new career. On the other hand, at any moment you could be fired for something you tweeted 10 years ago, so it's a mixed bag. Your online presence is your new resume. It's a chance to show employers (current and future) your value and what you're capable of. Also, a helpful rule of thumb: If you wouldn't say it in the office, think twice about posting it.

Q. My boss sent me a friend request. Is it best to separate work and personal life?

A. Keeping one's work and personal life separate sounds nice, though probably isn't a reality today. This is a judgment call — but before you accept the friend request, make sure you're not sharing anything that will negatively impact you at work (or if you are, then limit what your boss can see).

Q. What content is or should be off-limits for social media posts?

A. Avoid posting anything you might regret sharing in a day, a year or a decade. Again, if you wouldn't say it to someone in real life, don't say it online. If you wouldn't be comfortable sharing it on a billboard with your name, don't share it online. Also, the world does not need any more Boomerangs of clinking mimosa glasses — we're all guilty of this.

Answers provided by Ben Nesvig, social media strategist at the Social Lights, a Twin Cities-based social media marketing agency, specialising in strategy, content, paid campaigns and community management. – Star Tribune/TNS
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