Thursday, July 30, 2009

You Said What? Remember Social Media is Public Marketing Folks

I've written about this before - but it's an ongoing problem as more and more people join us in social media land.

For those of us who use Facebook professionally and personally and don't split our pages - we sometimes have friends that post bad stuff. Not bad in the horrible sense, but bad in the sense that I don't want clients or prospective ones reading posts make me cringe. During the elections it was radical politics. Now it's reverted to sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Oh that 70s generation.

It's not just the posts but the photos. Look at the one on this page of a drunk, passed out teenager from the book I'm writing. Would I post that on Facebook? Of course not. But I see a lot of bare midriffs and butt shots and drunk passed out teenagers. Stuff that is well not in very good taste. Bad idea.

I don't want my clients reading stuff I wouldn't tell them in conversation. And I don't talk in gibberishy client speak. I'm direct. Sometimes I say stuff I shouldn't say. I can silence a room. But I'm not an idiot.

Many people keep separate Facebook pages for work and personal lives but as a small and growing company, it's not that simple for me. I want people I know professionally to see my human side. I want my business contacts to know I have a life. And it's nice to know that my clients aren't just that, but also have kids and spouses and dogs and interests outside of work.

Yet I have all these people from high school who act on Facebook like well - they are still in high school. And I've got a cousin in Hollywood who is hilarious but the stuff he talks about - well you can just imagine.

At least they are not boring - but they often do go too far.

My cousin hides his posts so my friends can't see them, but I can check up on him privately. That's one solution.

The captain of my high school football team is a different story. He's a professional guy and the stuff he's putting up I'm sure he doesn't want his kids, let alone members of his union team, to see. That mentality should stay in the shop sir. On Facebook you sound like a sexist and under-loved jerk.

Maybe he just hasn't read the zillion articles about college kids looking for jobs and prospective employers checking their social media pages. Who can forget the infamous Bristol Palin "fiancee " Levi whose MySpace page said something like - I want to be with as many girls as possible and I never want to get married. Jon Stewart found it, feasted on it, and it came down very fast.

The bottom line is Facebook and everything else on the Internet is public. IT'S MARKETING. It tells people who you are and how you think. It tells them how smart or not smart you are. It tells them what keeps you up at night.

Do you really want that stuff you're writing that you wouldn't say in a client meeting out there in Internet land? My guess is no.

My rule is simple: If you wouldn't say it to your boss don't post it. It can easily come back to haunt you.

Do I post personal things? Yes. My last Facebook post asked for "Advice to Survive Living with a 14 year-old boy." The answers were funny - from send him to relatives for the whole summer to Cosmopolitans. People responded in droves which is great.

Of course, I forgot that my 14 year-old boy reads that - but it's not news to him that he drives me crazy. And it makes me seem human to clients. But dirty jokes - no. Sexual references - no. High school drunkenness stories - been there, done that, writing a book about it - not going to write about that on Facebook.

So what do I do now with people like that? I used to cut them off right away. Now I send them a message and tell them the truth. If they stop - fine. If they don't stop that's their decision. But they are no longer on my fan page.

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