7 Social Media Tips Every Graduate Needs

Social Media: The Commencement Speech I Would Give

College GraduationIf I were giving a college commencement speech, I’d focus on social media. It’s at the core of how students communicate. Leaving the protected educational environment requires guideposts to help graduates get their lives on track to succeed.

Here are the 7 actionable social media tips organized into seven categories I’d include.

1. Dream big

Set audacious goals for yourself. Today’s social media enables everyone to leave his digital mark on the world. What do you want to do? Don’t let others stop you.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  1. Commit your personal goals to paper. Research shows people who have written goals perform better than those who don’t. Those with specific goals do even better.
  2. Start a bucket list of things you want to do with your life. Planning is one way to ensure you get to do them.

2. Act grown up

Think about how you want to be seen by others. Start viewing yourself as an adult and take responsibility for your actions but don’t lose your childlike wonder.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  1. Select social media names that project the image you want people to have of you. On social media, choose monikers that project attributes you want to highlight.
  2. Get a Gmail account. Have an account with a name that’s suitable for professional interactions. Don’t include silly nicknames or your birthday. Consider how you’ll distinguish yourself if your name is relatively common. For example, David Meerman Scott uses his middle name to distinguish himself from other David Scotts.
  3. Use a professional looking photo. Don’t crop your significant other out of a photo. Pick a shot where you’re at the top of your game wearing professional clothes. While it’s good to show your point of view, don’t limit yourself based on first impressions. This means minimal exposed skin.

3. Build your reputation

Grow your personal network. As the adage goes, it’s who you know not what you know. Social media makes this even more relevant.

Actionable Social Media Tip:

  1. Pay it forward. This is one of social media’s unstated rules. Help others when possible. Realize this doesn’t mean overcommit or saying you’ll do something you can’t do.
  2. Understand the power of loose connections. Most people think their strongest links are people they know directly. The reality is that it’s often friends of friends that provide the best connections. They’re one degree away from you so that they’re not encumbered with your past history and flaws.
  3. Stay in touch with people. This doesn’t mean a mass emailing; rather it means one-to-one communications to your friends, colleagues and networking contacts. It sounds like a small thing but it’s really not. Routinely reach out to at least one person a day. If someone says contact me in six months, make a note and ping them in six months.

4. Protect your privacy

Since you’re no longer a kid, take time to consider how your social media interactions will reflect on you both personally and professionally. Remember information on the Internet is forever. Know that organizations check you out via your social media and online footprint. If they don’t like what they see, you may never know.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  1. Adjust the privacy settings on all social media sites. Take the time to find out how to set the privacy appropriately on social media for your objectives.
  2. Assume no social media communication is private. Your private information could become public due to a software glitch or more likely a family member or friend sharing something they didn’t realize was private. (Remember no one is truly protected, even a private Zuckerberg family photo wound up getting wide distribution.)

5. Flex your writing muscles

The ability to write is worth its weight in gold regardless of your selected profession. It’s at the core of effective communications both written and verbal.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  1. Write morning pages. Write first thing every day—whatever comes into your mind. Take some writing tips from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, Natalie Goldberg‘s Writing Down the Bones and Stephen King’s, On Writing.
  2. Read extensively. Don’t limit yourself to professional information. Think classics. Remember in order to be a responsible adult, you need to be informed. (In case you need some guidance, here’s St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland’s list of great books.)
  3. Consider blogging. Establishing a blog provides you with your own publishing platform. After testing out a free option, move to your own URL and hosting. (Here are  blogging tips to get started.)

6. Rebalance your social media interactions

To show that you should be treated seriously and with respect, offer more professional content.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  1. Don’t over share. While you can still go out and party, don’t report the details on social media. This can have repercussions later.
  2. Skip the ME, ME, ME. Listen more and talk less. This holds for real life and other types of communication. Realize that it’s not just about you.

7. Be real.

At its core social media is about being honest and transparent in your interactions. To this end, it’s critical to communication with a human voice.

Actionable Social Media Tip:

  1. Be yourself. Dr. Seuss said it best: “There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
  2. Get out from behind your computer screen and start living. It’s your life embrace it.


Graduating from school means stepping into the real world and taking responsibility for your future, both online and in real life. Go forward and create something wonderful for you and those close to you.

What is your social media advice for college graduates? Is there something you wish that someone told you before you graduated?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

P.S. This column is dedicated to my oldest nephew who is graduating from college this weekend.

Note: This column title is from the 50 Free Summer Titles for Blogs and Content Marketing.



Related Articles


Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/92269745@N00/4612732045/


Tags , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 7 Social Media Tips Every Graduate Needs