Social Media Pro-Tip #1

While I won’t touch the politics involved, I will discuss what happened with Kitchen Aid’s twitter feed during last night’s debates.

An employee at Kitchen Aid made the mistake of tweeting a rather tasteless joke about the President during last night’s debates. It was quickly caught, removed, and apologized for by the management. So points to them for an appropriate response to the problem. They owned the issue and handled it with grace.

It should never have happened.

Well, duh. We all know that, you’re thinking. The person who tweeted should have made sure they were on their own personal feed. Right?

Wrong!

They shouldn’t have even thought about posting that on their personal feed, either. Here’s why.

Once you start working for a company, any company, be they high profile or not, you represent them. Unless you keep it a huge secret and don’t ever mention your work or for whom you work, you are a representative of your company. Anything you tweet, post on Facebook, or blog about will reflect on your employer.

This is perhaps the biggest drawback to the instant gratification, constant 24/7 news streaming world that we live in these days.

You are just as much a brand as Kitchen Aid. Or Coke. Or Victoria’s Secret.

Don’t believe me?

Go surf someone’s Facebook. Someone you don’t know. Read their posts and look at their pictures. What do you think about them?

If they have a ton of pictures of them getting drunk at parties and post about drugs and reckless activities, you form a mental picture of them as someone who isn’t necesarily responsible. Now, say that you run a business. An insurance business. Is this the sort of person you want as a public face for your company? Do you want pictures on the internet of an employee wearing a shirt with your logo on it, doing drugs, getting drunk, or posing lewdly with naked statues? Probably not. No matter how good a person they are, how dedicated a worker, you have the wrong idea from their online brand.

Employers check these things now. So do insurance companies, by the by.

Now, am I saying you can’t have fun with your friends? Heck no!

I am, however, saying that you need to keep your public image firmly in mind. Set up a work account and a separate, private account. Enable all of your privacy settings on the personal one, so that you share those things with only your friends. DO NOT MIX THE TWO. Ever.

If that’s too much work for you, then you will have to school yourself to thinking very carefully about everything you put on the internet. If you can’t post it on your employer’s website, Facebook, or Twitter feed, you shouldn’t post it on yours.

This goes doubly, or even tripley for you if you are deliberately building a brand. As an author, you want your readers to connect with you and want to pay to read your work. That’s why you give them a taste of who you are as a person, but you don’t tell them every little thought that goes on in your head.

The internet fosters an incredible sense of connection, which is awesome when building a fanbase. You and your readers probably have a lot in common. After all, if they like what you write, chances are they will like you. But what you write about isn’t ALL of you. Just like there are things you don’t talk about at parties (yay for unspoken social contracts), there are things you shouldn’t share with people online. Cause unlike at the party, where people will probably forget you dancing on the table with a lampshade on your head, that stuff NEVER GOES AWAY on the internet. It’s there forever.

I’d say “If you can’t say it to your Grandmother, don’t say it on the internet,” but if your Grandmother is anything like mine, that advice will backfire.

So I leave you with this thought, instead. How do you want to be remembered?

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