At an event recently a friend of mine was cracking jokes on my online appearance. Although only joking, you can always tell when there is some truth to it.
It was enough where I started giving it a bit more thought.
In the process, I realized he was correct. So I found myself thinking more and more on the subject. As your personal brand equity begins to increase you give little thought to it, until all of a sudden it slaps you in the face.
It begins with random pings to be friends, emails, Skype messages, etc… Before you know it, it consumes your day and the lines between personal and public become non-existent. It really struck home when I published a picture on Facebook and my wife asked, “Who is that?”
I honestly didn’t know, other than it being a friend request I received and felt obligated to accept.
Personal and Public Brand
I don’t think there is anything new to this debate, what and when do personal and public lines meet? It’s likely different for every person, rightfully so and heavily dependent on platform.
For instance, Twitter is a platform where I share anything and everything it’s fair game and I realize that. Google + I really don’t use, outside of professional use, just could never get the hang of it for daily use. Instagram is also another fair game social platform for me. LinkedIn, I use strictly for professional use and have always kept it that way. I don’t pinterest, swarm or the barrage of other social platforms so that becomes a little easier.
Facebook however is the conundrum for me. I share sometimes more than I should, or in reality I share as much as I want, but perhaps not what I should be for the world to consume (although you could argue once shared, the world has already won). So that is where I will begin.
I’ve since created a Professional Page on Facebook where those that know me professionally can follow and engage if they so desire.
I will also be going through and purging my Facebook of Friends, unless we’re actually friends. I really hope it doesn’t insult people, but I can definitely see how it does and I respect that.
I will also set up a separate page specifically for my health / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu endeavors, which I also blog about. I have also hear half jokes about how much I talk about BJJ and so this will be my effort to separate information, so those interested in that kind of stuff can engage there and my family and friends that really don’t care don’t have to be inundated with my noise.
I owe it to my Family and Myself though to create a clear divide between what is personal and public.
My definition of Friends will be defined as:
- Family I actually engage with ( I don’t believe in the, let’s be friends because we’re blood, that’s just silly. If we have a relationship, we talk, we engage, share common interests, then great. If we don’t, then that’s great too).
- People I actually engage with (This could be engage solely online, or in person, but we have to have some kind of rapport and I have to find you somewhat interesting, enough where we can carry a conversation).
The optimal word here being engage. Most will likely be please though as they wont’ have to deal with my overwhelming number of BJJ related posts.
It also serves as a great mechanism for me to share things I find interesting that my Family really doesn’t understand or care about. For instance, most of my family still things 1) I’m in the Marine Corps, or 2) I am like the Best Buy Geek, otherwise known as the family IT guy.
Either way, there is no denying the impacts Social Media has on your brand, especially your professional brand. You hear every day how companies use it to asses your personality and whether you’d be a cultural fit, or whether they could see you representing their brand. I see this as perhaps the hardest challenge for today’s parents, being unlike younger generation kids are growing up with Social Media readily available.
I talk to the youngest of my cousins and nieces and this fact becomes evidently obvious.
How Do you Account For Your Brand?
As a business owner, beyond my personal and professional brands I have to be mindful to the impacts of my company. Something each business owner should give serious thoughts to. This goes beyond your online persona’s, but your outside behavior.
As the face for your organization you have a responsibility, not just to the company, but to every person working at the company, even it’s just you and a buddy. Anything you share can have catastrophic implications across the board.
In my opinion, size really doesn’t matter in this case. We all have some aspiration, whether big or small, it’s why we started our companies and as such you must always plan ahead, not behind.