Protect Your Personal Brand
Do you know who Justine Sacco is? To be perfectly honest, before a few days ago, I didn’t. She is a young, New York professional who was on a series of flights headed to South Africa when she made a tweet to 170 followers. Her tweet turned her life upside down. I strongly encourage any of you to read the New York Times article when you get the chance. Maybe now in fact. It is wordy but good, and I’ll wait for you: How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. Then there is @Cella who was fired over Twitter before she even started her job: Young woman fired.
We can argue over what Sacco’s tweet meant, whether the outrage that occurred was warranted, etcetera. That isn’t the point of this article though. The point is, even on “personal” social media (notice the quotes, nothing is personal or fleeting on the internet) anything that you say can be found and spread. It may not even matter if something you said was taken out of context, misinterpreted, or simply shared in circles that you didn’t think it ever would have, or should have been. It is out there. The moment you hit “Tweet,” “Post,” “Share,” or click that check mark, you are making a statement that could potentially be found weeks, months, and sometimes even years later by people all over the world.
If you are running your own business or have ever done social media or PR for a company, you know how important it is to not only be on social media, but to be noticed. How do you get noticed? Do something nobody else is doing.
Be edgy, offer amazing deals, offer info and insight that no one else does. Doing any of those opens you up to misinterpretation or attack. In the case that something you say is misinterpreted (as Justine Sacco claims happened to her) you must be able to respond quickly and correct it. Personally, I think that was one of the reasons the situation got so out of hand with Sacco. In the case that something you have said causes you to be under attack from an individual or group of people, you have to decide if a response is even worth it. If they are being completely offensive, just ignore them and don’t fall into their trap. Otherwise, be well-intentioned with your replies. Never be rude or arrogant, and stay professional.
Those of us up here in Tahoe have it pretty tough too. We get a new group of people almost every week. Many of them are affluent and on vacation so expect a level of service given in a certain way. Our businesses get Googled, Yelped, and Facebooked a huge amount. One poorly made post, or response to a review can start a domino effect that could end an establishment. Think before you post, and stay positive. While as professionals we can’t stay off social media anymore, we can follow through with our namesake. Stay professional.