The Digital Collide: Maintaining a Private Life in the Age of Public Social Media

Posted on March 21, 2014 | Karen Moores | 0 Comments

Striking this balance is important for all social and digital users yet increasingly important for consultants, senior leaders, executives or others bound by conflict of interest legislation, working under the rules of a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) or other professional governing or guiding legislation on information use.

Unless your agreement says you really can’t engage with your stakeholders in the digital, public space, there are ways to find balance, create the right mix and grow your personal brand.

This also has value for your organization and broader brand: although brands are often trusted, a human touch through your picture and personalized tweets adds to your personal brand equity in the digital world and, when played right, you can protect your personal and professional privacy boundaries by well planned and researched social messaging.

Read, Read and Ask Questions, Often
Investigate the rules in your company handbook (most progressive employers are considering the addition of a social media policy – find yours or ask questions if it does not currently exist) and share your desire to enhance your personal/professional social media account with the main players on your team.

For those working in industries (public bodies or organizations bound by professional guidelines), read the third party rules and see how they apply to you.

Ask questions:

  • Does social messaging have to be truly personal (sports, the weather and never a mention to work?)
  • How can you add value to your professional brand through positive comments about industry advancement, achievements and collaborative work?
  • Will clients or board members feel better if your tweets or posts are planned and approved if the account is truly professional-meets-personal?

Consider this piece from Slate on how technology and journalism intersect with private lives: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/03/twitter_journalism_private_lives_public_speech_how_reporters_can_ethically.html

Influence Raising + Connectivity:
For executives raising their public profile, a well managed social media voice is useful in influencing relations and enhancing your persona with other leaders in industry, government and is also a method of distinguishing your perspective, brand and industry approach from that of your competitors.

Thanks to the Huffington Post, the Top 50 Social CEOs on Twitter give a variety of examples of how those at the top properly share in the public sphere: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vala-afshar/the-top-50-social-chief-e_b_3380055.html

If your employer, clients or governing board has given their approval to add some tweets, Facebook messaging or Google+ posts related to your daily work, ensure they are typically positive, aligned with your organizational values and do not contradict values you share with your stakeholders.

Risk Vs. Reward
Many senior team members feel the risk of a social media account with any association to work are the negative comments and questions – a similar concern to brand managers. A Facebook page, a Twitter account and others provide an opportunity for brands and leaders to manage the message, respond accordingly and, when needed, shutdown inappropriate conversations.

Signed by Who?
The highest levels of organizations often have Twitter or Facebook teams – President Barack Obama signs personal tweets in a way users known is him. For accounts managed by in-house communications counsel or an agency, ensure a policy exists to protect your personal and professional brand by ensuring only tweets written by you are signed off by you, even if they are coming from your account. (This doesn’t permit rogue or off-message behaviour but instead, provides a form of protection in the event of social media error.)

This blog is part of a two-part series on digital media and privacy. This first piece will focus on managing social media tools in an increasingly public world; part two will feature tips from Mandy Woodland, a privacy lawyer, on integrating the new anti-spam law into your Atlantic Canadian Business.

More from The Digital Collide…
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