A recent Washington Post article by Michelle Singletary was published in my local Sunday paper's business section titled "Watch What you Tweet". It caught my attention not only because I knew right away what the article was about, but also because it was posted in the BUSINESS section of the paper.
In summary, the article talks about the dangers of posting too much private information online. I have joked with some Facebook followers that it makes the jobs of stalkers and identity thieves all that much easier- but in reality that is exactly true.
To protect your private information, reputation, personal liability, and job prospects, here is a short list of DON'T (s):
- Reveal your birthday (I rather they guess by my picture anyway)
- Reveal any information that you might use as a security answer. (such as pet name, mother's maiden name, etc)
- Trash talk, bad mouth, or post that drunken photo of you at the frat party. (Yes, all you college students and grads- employers will look at and consider this information.)
- Post derogatory comments or threatening notes about others. You may think you are just venting- but you can be named in a costly defamation lawsuit, no matter how silly. Keep your conflicts (with neighbors, bosses, co-workers, clients, etc) private.Post when you will be out of town or on vacation. (Empty house= easy target)
So are the benefits of these social media networks for business branding, identity and promotion worth the risk? When is it too much information and how do you know if it is even worthwhile?
First, a few examples of DO's for social media:
- Are you a consultant who needs to establish credibility and a reputation of expertise? Tweet new posts on your blog, recent trainings you are giving (or receiving), set up a Facebook page where your clients can interact socially.
- Are you a restaurant owner who needs to publish the daily specials to your regular customers? Tweet the specials at a regular time each day so your followers know what & when to expect it.
- Are you holding or attending a special event, trade show and want to see some traffic? Yes, you guessed it- post the event on Facebook, promote it through Twitter= create a stir.
- Are you job hunting? Create a LinkedIn account to serve as your interactive online resume. Monitor (and yes- censor!) your Facebook account to make sure you are not tagged in those wild party photos. And I know it would seem common sense- but don't swear or use deragatory language.
In short, determing the value of any internet initiative is going to be determined by your busines goals and how you measure and manage it. So before you can answer whether the benefit is worth the perceived risk and time, you have to know how it will play into your business goals and objectives.