The other day I got to thinking how I really want to implement some guidelines into my personal social media posting. Mind you, this is the regarding the accounts I use for my friends and family, not what I use for my professional marketing. But nonetheless, if you have a public persona, or if you are serving on a board of directors, or if you generally need to be respected in the community at large, deciding what light in which you want to be seen has a lot to do with what type of curtains you choose to hang.
Years back, I was at a conference and the keynote speaker was Amy Henry, of The Apprentice (season one) fame. The theme of her talk was around the fact that the camera is always on, and someone could always be watching. She talked about how some of her contemporaries claimed they were “unfairly edited” and yet, even if there was editing involved, those individuals chose to provide that content.
Her remarks struck a chord with me then but it’s all the more relevant now that everyone has the potential to have the camera on them 24-7, not just celebrities.
In light of the most recent of far too many situations to count, a congressional aide (forcibly?) apologized for what she said about the president’s daughters. What’s interesting is that there’s been very little attention given to whether or not her claims have merit. It’s really been more about the fact that in her position she is vulnerable to scrutiny and some decided that they would criticize her based on remarks.
Similarly, many of us are judged at different points in our lives, sometimes during the job hunt, other times when a client is deciding if partnering with us supports or undermines his values. The world—much less our individual market places—is now very small. And it is up to us which windows we want to let people look in, and which we want to keep covered up. Certainly, this isn’t fair but such is the double-edged sword of connectivity.
This isn’t to say we can’t have minds of our own or humoristic styles, but it is to ensure that we are proactively deciding what is public and what is private. A comedian will have a vastly different set of filters than an elementary school teacher; the idea that we choose a proactive-posting approach rather than a reactive posting approach. And the degree to which we have something to lose is the degree to which we need to be conscious about what we put out there for the world to see.
Here are the guidelines that I felt represent my values and respect both my profession and my clients.
- Does it generally feel positive?
- Is it something that even people who disagreed with the stance could still feel good about reading?
- Is it unifying rather than divisive?
- If someone who didn’t know me saw it, would I be proud of the representation?
- Would I say it in front of my grandmother, my priest, my daughter, and my client?
My social media guidelines ensure that what not matter what I say, even if it is opinion-based, I won’t be apologizing for it next week.
What guidelines might be important for you to implement? Have you thought about having this conversation with employees? If so, what have been the results?