Reputation management and social media

I’ve written about this before and will write about it again… Be careful what you put on social networking sites—professionally and personally. If you wouldn’t want to see it on the front page of your local newspaper, don’t put it up.

The people on my Facebook page represent a range of relationships to me. Some are close friends, other acquaintances, others are former colleagues and some I have only met either briefly in person or not at all. It’s a bit like a neighbourhood coffee shop where there are a lot of different people hanging out.

With the recent changes on Facebook I have seen this happening more recently, but it really hit home the other night when a friend happened to comment on her friend’s photo. I am not connected at all to the person who uploaded the photo, but I could not only see the photo (which was of a party where people were clearly tipsy), but I could see all of the comments below the photo. The person that uploaded the image likely has no idea how many “strangers” could see that image or the conversations that followed. I don’t know what this person does for a living (although I do now know where she lives and what bar she goes to, thanks to the comments), but what if that was a VP in your office or a board member? (Please don’t think that VPs or board members are too responsible to do such things—they’re human.)

Organizations are using social media networks to check out potential employees, research competitors, and check on current employees. And they aren’t the only ones using social media networks to find things out. There is no buffer zone anymore; it’s important to remember that.

I believe that most of what is shared on social media networks is done in the spirit of good fun, but how it is perceived or used can hurt your professional and personal reputation and it could reflect on your brand reputation as well.

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