Is your Facebook a timeline or time bomb?

Stellenbosch University students seem to use Facebook as a branding tool as much as a space to gossip and meet friends.

A recent snap survey of students from Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town showed the different ways in which students use their Facebook accounts.

In the survey students were asked how they used social media, whether or not they had ever deleted photos or posts, why and how often. Branding appeared to play a big role.

Facebook is fast becoming a tool for  personal branding but many simply use it to share their lives with friends

Facebook is fast becoming a tool for personal branding but many simply use it to share their lives with friends. PHOTO: MARSHA LEITCH AND PAULA-ANN SMIT

A politics and governance student at the University of Cape Town who preferred not to be named said that he was careful, to the point of neuroticism, with his Facebook account.

He said that spring cleaning and monitoring social media is important, especially if you have potential employers as friends because perception is a key thing in building a brand and posts may offend or turn people off. “I have direct messages dating back to three years ago and, if in public service one day, it would possibly come back to haunt me. So I strike the balance by posting my personal stuff and professional stuff so I keep both camps happy.”

Being cautious and strategic with posts is a popular sentiment.  “I use it primarily for building my brand. I run four Facebook pages of which one is my personal account. Only on this account do I deliver opinions and personal reflections,” said Andeline Wieland, Miss Teen Namibia 2012, drama graduate and current postgraduate student at Stellenbosch University.

She continued that she doesn’t really delete anything. She prefers to be very cautious of what she posts in the first place. If she does delete anything it is usually spam or unattractive photos of herself at some event that were taken without her knowledge.

However, some students believe that there is a time and place for everything. Sebolelo Mohanoe, who studies Occupational Therapy at Stellenbosch University, said that she also uses Facebook for building her brand but with a difference. “I have never deleted old photos from Facebook because I see it as a memory from a time in my life. I’m planning on building a brand so I would love it if there was a way for people to see my growth but currently it’s for sharing with friends and family.”

Rebecca Pein, a Bachelor of Social Sciences graduate of the University of Cape Town currently finishing off her LLB at the same institution said that although she considered Facebook as a great way to build a brand, she didn’t think she had a brand. “For me it’s just a place to share with friends and family!” – Aydn Parrott