Disclaimer: This post is not about working for a brand or any particular company for that matter. Have I suddenly piqued an interest in you?
Yes, in fact it’s a strong belief of mine that whether or not you’re in the communications industry – you are your own brand. Cheesy, I know.
How you talk, dress and act in a professional capacity dictates how people see you. You wouldn’t swear in front of your boss just like you wouldn’t let them see your drunken photos from last years Christmas party.
If you mess up, sometimes you can rectify it. But other times? These mistakes will knock you back to square one. And then some.
Take Paris Brown as an example, a Kent Youth PCC with the world at her feet and a large salary in her account, she was ready-made for success as a role model for the social media age, so why on earth would she tweet such obscenities? At 17, she was still so young but it proves that neither age nor ignorance can excuse you from losing it all.
Sometimes it’s been argued that the public go too far in the hunt to see offenders stripped of their livelihoods, Justine Sacco – the star of #hasJustinelandedyet – lost her job, her reputation and even friends, with it taking her 1 year to get her life back on track. 1 year. Is it really fair that 140 characters caused her to lose 365 days?
With these cases in mind, it’s inevitable that you need to learn to protect yourself, and in a few simple steps you’ll be ready to:
- Make your Facebook private, no
oneemployer wants to see you with your head down the toilet at last years Christmas party – and trust me, they do spot check you.
- Although the same goes for Twitter, you always have the option of creating a public work account that you can keep purely professional.
- If you do keep your personal account for work, delete all your previous tweets – There’s a website called Tweetdelete that can solve all your problems. I’ll even admit to using it before I came to university! When even the US library of congress stores all tweets for future reference, just think or it like this – if you’re going to end up deleting them, don’t even bother tweeting them.
- Be aware of linking your social media accounts, your connections on LinkedIn don’t want to know about #foodporn
- Remember that social media is a great part of company marketing/PR/advertising strategies now, if you get into disrepute – your company isn’t going to let you take them down with you. The NHS alone have disciplined 1,035 members of staff for social media incidents in 10 years.
- If there are ethical codes or conduct or laws, follow them. Simple.
- Be ready to adapt the way you communicate, it’s a changing world and you need to be part of it, slagging off social media isn’t going to get you anywhere.
So in summary, don’t do anything stupid and you should be fine. It’s taken years to build your reputation, don’t destroy it in just one click.