YOUR BRAND SHADOW
I have had the pleasure of teaching marketing students about social media at Holland College. Each year we chat about how to develop a social media plan for their employer and what it looks like when you’re implementing it “on brand”. We talk about all sorts of challenges, like accurately communicating the company’s personality, as well as a variety of opportunities, like connecting with potential partners all over the globe, and the like.
Inevitability our discussions switch to them and how they’re managing their own personal brands online. I ask, do you really understand the implications of posting your every thought, every move? Some do. Others don’t (and I should point out, this is not just students.)
Don’t get me wrong, being you is important. Trying too hard or being phony only gets you so far before people catch on. I’m a huge advocate of being authentically you! Get at it all day long, I say.
Just know, as much as you have the right to be you, others have the right to form opinions about you.
Employers, potential employers, fellow employees, teachers, clients, partners and so on, are watching you online and some of your actions may be influencing their thoughts about you. For instance:
- Who and what you retweet is a reflection on you, your values and what you believe in. A retweet is like an endorsement. I’ve seen people retweet terrible stereotypes, offensive jokes and tweets full of profanity. When you share it, I see it as your way of putting your stamp of approval on it.
- The way you treat others online speaks to your character (my mom always taught me to watch how a person treats their waitress to get a glimpse into who they really are…). If you are ridiculing others online, posting negative or rude comments on their posts or pages, or just being mean, I see this as who you are as a person. For me personally, if I see this kind of behavior, I steer clear of you in person and warn my friends.
- When you complain about your boss, your job, your friends, your spouse, etc., many of us will assume you’re a negative person.
- Selfie after selfie – I don’t get this, a little self-absorbed?
- “My tweets are my own” – Nope. They are a direct reflection of the brand you work for. People can argue this all day long but it’s true. Customers/partners/ clients/ employers don’t see you as completely separate from the company you work for, to us, you’re one in the same. As an employer, much of what my employees put out through their social media world impacts my brand, so we pay close attention to hire employees with shared core values.
The way I see it, the more we know about how our online actions are often perceived, the more aware we can be when we’re online. The choice is absolutely yours, power to the people! Just know, people are watching.