Will Past Facebook Dalliances Hamper Your Entrepreneurial Path?

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Will Past Facebook Dalliances Hamper Your Entrepreneurial Path?

In my almost seven years as a Facebook user (disclaimer: a seven-year period marked by a typical number of Facebook status updates, picture stalkings and wall postings), I feel comfortable in contending that users often fall into one of four categories.

First there’s the “Extroverted, Every Day” user. C’mon, we all know this user. You know, that person who isn’t afraid to share his/her every thought to the world – even if that includes posts lamenting the fact that he/she bombed that business presentation or social studies test – and is often the first to “like,” “join,” “share,” and “tag” on the social networking site. 

Then, of course, there’s the “Passive, Occasional” user – that person who has a Facebook account and posts about two or three times a week, from the inane to the useful posts. (Note to readers:  I like to think that I fall into this category and that my posts err on the side of useful as opposed to inane, but that’s probably just wishful thinking!). This person won’t actively seek out people to “friend” on Facebook or pages to like, but is receptive to suggestions from friends and enjoys reading other’s status updates occasionally, provided that those status updates don’t inundate that person’s newsfeed.

Finally there’s the “I’m Only On Because (Insert Name) Made Me Do It.” This are people who have Facebook accounts but have either forgotten their password, don’t understand the point of the social networking site, and/or are silently harboring ill will towards the individuals that tricked them into joining years ago.

However, there exists a small subset of Facebook users in the inconspicuous fourth group – the “I’m Going to Build My Brand Starting on Facebook” user. And that’s the user we should all be striving to emulate.

In today’s competitive job market, economic recession and surplus of Gen Y and laid off Baby Boomers searching for work, many have decided to go the way of the entrepreneur. After all, social media is mostly free, so what better time than now to launch that dream business you first thought of when you were 13 and when the World Wide Web is waiting to be your best friend? And when it comes to the entrepreneurial route, perhaps no group is hopping aboard that bandwagon quicker than generations Y and Z, the recent college grads and the current college and high school students. Case and point: Mark Zuckerberg eight years ago in a Harvard dorm room.

As stated in a recent blog post, “For businesses starting up, social media can be a valuable tool in order to gain exposure in a cost-effective manner, as well as potentially gain funding through online sources. Platforms such as Kickstarter. This platform has become one of the main ways students can apply for the backing they need for a product or service, and is only one of the many online services designed with today’s startup in mind.”

While high school students and college coeds might be perceptive enough to see the obvious benefits of social media for helping ramp up a business quickly, these two groups are also the most susceptible to making cardinal social media mistakes.

Although it may be hard to argue that a college student who spends his free time updating his statuses  about “Thirsty Thursdays” and “Beer Pong,” and liking pages with titles such as “Girls Gone Wild,” will 100 percent never see his entrepreneurial business take off, why take the gamble?

Students: You are at a pivotal place in your life right now. You have a host of social networking sites at your fingertips and your minds are nimble, fresh – not tainted by having heard many times, “I’m sorry but we’ve gone with someone else.” Your optimism is still there; your innovation is brimming.

So don’t abuse your social networking sites. Don’t be a part of any of the first three groups I mentioned because whether you want to believe it or not every single time you create a social networking account or you choose to ignore it’s power, you are building up your brand, for better or worse.

It might be hard to think about monitoring your sites so closely now when you are five years away from wanting to launch your dream company. But every time you post a status update or Tweet, the Internet search engines are indexing you, meaning that investors five years down the line might not look favorably on the fact that most of your college years were characterized by excessive, mind-numbing posts and tweets (even if you cleaned up your social networking act the past year).

So join group four now. Assume that you will hit it big one day. And don’t be afraid to turn your Facebook password over to that investor if need be.

For more on this topic and others, follow me on Twitter.



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