September 21, 2015 / 11:05 AM / 2 years ago

Beware harming your 'personal brand' on social media

A logo of Twitter is pictured next to the logo of Facebook in this September 23, 2014 illustration photo in Sarajevo. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

(Reuters) - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that on August 27th, “1 in 7 people on earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family” -- which means about 1 billion people in a single day.

It’s a startling statistic and it means human connectivity is evolving at an exponential rate. It also means that when we are online someone, somewhere is watching what we’re doing, what were saying and what we’re posting.

Because of the higher level of visibility social media brings to our lives, it’s important to apply the golden rules of etiquette, manners and respect to your online life just as you do in real life, helping ensure you build and maintain your personal and professional brand now and into the future.

TMI – too much information?: Social media is the perfect vehicle for the narcissist in all of us, with many users believing that we are the stars of our own little movie.

But that doesn’t mean we are and not everyone is interested in the minutiae of our daily lives. Whether lamenting about missing out on the perfect parking space at the grocery store or sharing intimate secrets of a broken relationship, the simple fact of the matter is, no one really cares to read the constant details of your daily life.

So do yourself a favor and edit your postings before updating by asking yourself, “Is this an important detail that my friends and family (and their friends and family) really need to know or is it TMI?”

Negativity: No one likes a ‘Debbie Downer’ and online negativity can adversely influence both your personal and professional relationships.

On personal social networks like Facebook and Twitter, posting negative comments online can be viewed as passive aggressive or simply mean-spirited.

On professional platforms like LinkedIn, any postings that portray you as anything less than calm, cool and collected should never see the light of day.

Further, more and more companies routinely search personal and professional social sites as part of background checks for prospective employees (and to check up on current ones). You don’t want any negative posting that could brand you as uncooperative, uncollaborative or simply uncool.

Picture Imperfect: If a picture is worth a thousand words, an unflattering upload could paint you into a corner. Whether you’re chugging a bottle of champagne at your sister’s wedding or showing a bit too much skin in a party dress, an inappropriate photo can come back to haunt you.

So before you hit upload in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat, think hard about what a particular photo can do to enhance or detract from your image.

We live in a culturally diverse world and social media puts us into contact with a host of people who may not share our same views on religion, social issues, politics or intellectual interests.

Variety is truly the spice of life, but not everyone has the same tastes. So even if you have a strong opinion about a particular issue or belief, you may want to consider saving your thoughts for the appropriate audience in real time to ensure they do not come across online as discriminatory or inflammatory, particularly in regards to race, gender, religion, sexuality and other hot button issues.

By showing cross-cultural respect and tempering your comments, you can leave an impression that extends way beyond an ill-conceived, reactive rant.

(Pamela Eyring is the owner and president of The Protocol School of Washington, the global leader in international protocol, business etiquette and cross-cultural awareness training. With offices in Washington, D.C. and Dubai, the school was founded in 1988 and is the only U.S. educational institution of its kind accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET.org). For more information, visit www.psow.edu.)

Editing by Michael Roddy

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