Don’t Ditch Social Media

Four friends checking their mobile phones at the same time.

Social media got a bad rap during this year’s election process.

Fake news, Twitter trolls and cyber bullying came under fire.

Among American social media users, the Pew Research Center reported that 65% expressed “resignation and frustration about online political conversations.”

It’s enough to make anyone want to quit social media for good.

But don’t do that.

Why?

Because of your 100-year life.

What’s that about, you ask?

Well, more than half of babies born in developed nations in the 2000s can expect live to 100 or beyond, according to the medical journal The Lancet. And if you were born before then, your life will likely be a lot longer than you think.

A new book called The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity got me thinking about this.

Authors Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott are from the London Business School. They look at how anyone at any age can and should plan for their greater life expectancy, turning the extra time into “a gift and not a curse.”

When lives were shorter, people lived a three-stage life – education, work and retirement. These stages were compartments that didn’t overlap.

As early as 1978, Richard Bolles wrote about them in The Three Boxes of Life and How to Get Out of Them: An Introduction to Work/Life Planning. He advanced the idea that you needed to incorporate all three stages across your entire life.

He also wrote What Color is Your Parachute? It was chosen as one of the 100 All-TIME best and most influential non-fiction books published since 1923.

With how quickly the world is changing, Bolles’ advice was and is spot on.

  • We need to embrace lifelong learning, actively developing new skills as technology and globalization accelerate.
  • We need productive work to provide purpose, meaning and economic sustenance throughout our lives.
  • And we need leisure time to enjoy our lives and the people in them, and to refresh and renew ourselves.

Gratton and Scott explore this concept in writing about the interplay between tangible and intangible assets. They define an asset as “something that can provide a flow of benefits over several periods of time.”

Tangible assets “have a physical existence” and include things like housing, cash and investments. Intangible assets are things like “a supportive family, great friends, strong skills and knowledge, and good physical and mental health.”

The authors say that intangible assets are “key to a long and productive life – both as an end in themselves and also as in input into tangible assets.” They divide them into three categories of assets – productive, vitality and transformational.

One of these intangibles – a productive asset along with skills, knowledge and peers – is your reputation. “When a company has a positive brand, or a person has a good reputation, it is much easier for others to interact with them,” the authors say.

“A good reputation can be enormously important as it enables your valuable stocks of skills and knowledge to be really utilized in a productive way,” they continue. “It can also have a profound impact on your professional social capital.”

Why? “A good reputation will be one of the assets that enable you to expand your horizons,” the authors say. “It is the combination of portable skills and knowledge and a good reputation that will help bridge into new fields.”

They go on to write that “over the coming decades, it is likely that reputation will be based on a broader range of inputs. As future careers embrace more stages and more transitions, then inevitably this will create a broader range of information.”

Enter social media.

“Social media will increasingly broadcast your image and values to others and allow others to track and monitor performance,” they say. “So it is inevitable that you will need to curate a brand and reputation the covers far more than just your professional behavior.”

Everyone will need to signal their skills, their capabilities and their values during a longer life that potentially has multiple transitions. And transitions can take many forms – from one functional area to another, from one company to another and from one type of work to another.

Social media makes it easy to do this.

Over time, you can share your skills and abilities through many platforms – a Twitter feed, a YouTube channel, an Instagram stream, a LinkedIn portfolio, a Snapchat story or a personal blog. And these platforms will continue to change and evolve, with new ones emerging over time.

If you want to make your life’s transitions easier and more fulfilling, then social media is a must. And this doesn’t mean being on a few platforms to share photos with family and friends. A deliberate strategy and a plan for your personal brand in social media is imperative.

But where do you begin? Which social media platforms should you use? How do you curate and create content without it taking over your whole life?

Those will be the subjects of several upcoming posts.

Published by

Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, Social Media Savvy for Corporate Professionals, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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