Do's And Dont's of Social Media for String Music Majors
As musicians interested in scholarships and acceptance into music school, the focus becomes narrowed to academics and musicianship. But there is another area that is important to consider in this social media-centered world – your very public online presence.
String majors or not, the Department of Consumer Affairs states that, "...80% of admissions officers rank “quality of character” as an important factor in the decision making process," and upwards of 50% of admissions counselors admit to perusing prospective students' social media accounts to see if their online presence represents the same picture they've painted of themselves on paper.
What Does Your Online Presence Say About You?
In addition to transcripts, auditions, letters of recommendation and essays, there's a good chance the admissions team at your schools of interest will spend time peeking at your social media accounts.
The words you type, the pictures you post, the places you spend time, and even your social network - all are up for judgment by adults who have no real reference as to who you really are and what you're really like on a day-to-day basis.
For that reason, string music majors – and students aspiring to that path – should spend time cleaning up their accounts and maintaining authentic, but integrity-centered, social media accounts. Take some time to look at all your accounts through the eyes of a stranger; not just any stranger, but one who feels that every student they accept should be a shining example of what their school stands for, since accepted students are, quite literally, representatives of their brand.
Ask yourself the question, "What does my online presence say about me? What are the conclusions that others would form based on my pictures, my social network, my comments and shares, etc.?" If things are less than stellar, it's time to clean up your social media act.
Tips for Creating an Admissions-Worthy Social Media Presence
Having a hard time deciding what's appropriate and what isn't? What should stay and what should go? Here are some tips for crafting a social media profile that is indicative of who you are, without alarming or offending prospective music school and university admissions counselors.
Re-Evaluate Your Privacy Settings
Your privacy filters give you complete control over who can see your profile, who can tag photos and who can't, who shows up in your feed, etc. Are there friends or friends-of-friends who post/tag/share/etc., things that you would not want admissions counselors to see? Use your filter settings to keep your profile(s) more streamlined and within your control.
Delete Any Illegal or Provocative Pictures
Any posts of you (or friends) drinking, smoking cigarettes, vaping – or of you with others who are drinking or doing illicit drugs - or any sexually provocative posts – should be removed. Even if you aren't in the pictures, the posts still reflect on you.
A good rule of thumb: Don't post any pictures you wouldn't want your grandparents to see.
Watch Your Language
Similarly, the same flippant curse words and innuendo or turn-of-a-phrase may be commonplace and part of any Hollywood film script – but they pose a potential turn-off to anyone who doesn't know you well. If it comes down to you and a nearly-identical applicant, and your social media posts are laden with offensive language or off-putting posts, it might break your chances.
Some 57% of admissions counselors who use social media to "get to know" applicants say they find disturbing content. And 70% said they've found evidence of some type of prejudice. "Disturbing content" includes:
- Foul language
- Offensive symbols
- Evidence of prejudice, racism and other forms of intolerance towards others
- Drinking or drug use
- Negative comments about their school or school in general
- Some degree of nudity
A good rule of thumb: Don't create any posts you wouldn't want shared at a family gathering, and delete any potentially offensive posts.
Is Your Twitter Handle Worth Tweeting?
Sometimes, millennials use clever or catchy Twitter handles - and these handles may be offensive or off-color. If your #twitterhandle falls under (or alludes to) the bullet points listed in the above Watch Your Language category, create a new one that is personal but more professional.
Use Social Media to Strut Your Stuff and Empower Others
Another way to boost your online presence – particularly with prospective music schools and future employers in mind – is to use social media profiles as modest promotional tools, marketing yourself and musician friends, to share tips or skills you've learned over the years, and to celebrate the trials and tribulations of what it is to be a dedicated music student.
A great example is TwoSet Violin who use Facebook in both serious and comic ways, celebrating the lives of dedicated violinists.
Give social media profiles a makeover, and create an online presence that's authentic, ethical, and allows your unique, talented self to shine!