Social Media is usually viewed as having the potential to expand an individual’s reach. However, individuals need to learn how to leverage that potential – whether their reasons are business or personal – and then decide if they want to do so.

Using social media becomes a highly selective and subjective process. You are “electronically” defined in many respects by your selection of social networks, groups, and searches. You further are catalogued as a certain type of participant if you choose to blog or not blog; post or not post; participate or remain stealth; share or not share information; join or not join book or movie or video sites; permit or do not permit promotional material to flow to you; and allow or not allow pop-ups, etc. 

Your ability to learn about any particular social media site is limited to that which is available online and to personal recommendations from others. You may select a site, or an app based on personal preferences. That simple choice of selection begins to define your preferences, permits advertisements to flow to you, and enables others to make quick decisions regarding you.  Selecting the newest media may identify you as one who prefers to stay current with social media trends, while not adopting a major social media site may identify you as not concerned with current technology advances. Snap decisions are made based on your participation in groups, forums, instant messaging social media, or video-sharing.

Just as your choice of words verbally has an effect on the perception of you, so do the words that you choose to use online or in email. Whatever you do and whatever you write becomes a trail and a clue as to who you are, what you like or dislike, and what your attitudes are toward technology and electronic communication.

Social Media is limiting by your selection. If you choose to use one search engine, you are, by default, limiting the results to that one engine. If you select one place to manage your music, you are limiting the options to manage your music to that one site. If you choose to join only one or two of the major social media network sites, you have limited yourself. If you join groups, and post a message on one topic and not another, you are limiting knowledge about you that readers might have otherwise gleaned from your postings. You limit yourself every day in your social media pursuits.

Your decisions to participate will limit you while at the same time provide you with expanded visibility–an irony inherent to the concept of social media.

What is your buzz about?