Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Your Facebook posts are Your Personal Brand

What is so hard about this concept? Everything is public now. Everything you do on line, everything you post, and -- unless you are extremely disciplined about Facebook use and who you friend -- what you post will become visible in your work life.

Over the last week much has been written about employers asking for Facebook logins so they can investigate a candidates online presence before hiring. It's creepy, but from an employers perspective it makes sense. They want to know what liability is sitting out in the prospective employees Facebook timeline. From the candidates perspective it's an invasion of privacy because his/her personal life on Facebook is personal - right? Right in theory, wrong in practice.

The truth is it's all public -- or can be (will soon be) with little you can do about it.

We see the dumb posts with politicians and celebrities and laugh about them, but it's amazing how many people post non-work related posts that if they really thought about it they would not want a work colleague to see. There are the harmless ones - endless photos of their kids; there is humor, sexy tumblers, food and in the single dating pool the cryptic comments like this one from a work contact tonight:

Like it or not, unless you ONLY friend true, lifelong friends, Facebook is a public communication channel. Like Twitter it is your own PR news wire - "here's what I want you to know about me today". So every post we make sets an impression of who we are, forever.

You, and only you, are in charge of your PR and when you post it's like a PR event that says something about you. Who you are in the world and what you stand for - your personal brand. You can turn this into your advantage if you are smart - like my friend Rick Hyman who took several months off to ski and posted every day photos and tales of his (and his dog Bandit's) experiences and created an image and brand of his lifestyle as a result - but that takes conscious planning and discipline.

Like your career, or your PR, you have to think about your social media presence and plan it like any other brand creation exercise. Unlike teenagers, who have the excuse of not knowing better (although I suspect some of my teenage "friends" will regret some of their posts in 10 years) working adults must remember in the end, everything: email, voicemail, social media is all discoverable and hackable. Unless it's a whisper in someone's ear and you are 100% sure it will never get repeated, or you are in the safety of your home with close friends, everything we do is public and now so more than ever before.

You are your brand. Manage it.

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