Sunday, November 20, 2011

#156 - Guest Post: Social Media’s Impact on Real-World Reputations

By Zach Peacock

 Not everyone is a great communicator, but nearly everyone has a Facebook account. The question is, does every active user really know the implications of his/her online actions? I think not. 
 Within the last decade we’ve witnessed a revolution as the growth of social networks has transformed the once formal practice of writing into a free-for-all, giving anyone with Internet access the chance to write - and to be read.

Think of it this way - it isn’t too tough to get a driver’s license but driving is the most dangerous thing we all do on a daily basis. Social-media is kind of like that. Now, anyone can plug into a network and start cruising. The problem with this is that most of the time, the un-enlightened are filling up our newsfeeds with arbitrary nonsense.
 So,is the average person unaware that what he or she is saying, and the content they share, can actually do measureable damage to their real-world reputation?
Social networks are a valuable way to establish and maintain a personal brand. In other words, it is important to understand that the voice you create on social networks becomes an extension of you, reaching forth into a vast network of social communication space. People will cultivate an opinion of you based on what you say and what you share.
 Here are some tips to help you avoid dissolving your real-world reputation:
·       Take a moment to proof-read your status or tweet before you hit “submit.” Once you hit that button, you’ve just published content. Nothing screams lack of intellect or un-professional like misspelled words or incorrect punctuation. Seriously.
·       Heavily opinionated content can offend (e.g., political or religious material). Don’t be surprised when someone disagrees with you and takes it upon him or herself to try and discredit or embarrass you.
·       Try to inspire. Post insightful quotes or intriguing videos.
·       Share what’s in your heart and on your mind, but only if it is useful or constructive. Forget the drama, gossip and anger, please.
·       Photos are the most readily viewed content on Facebook; think of your albums as a catalog of all the people in your life. Be sure that photos on your profile are photos you really want to be seen.
·       THINK about what you are posting. What is the purpose of this update, tweet or shared link? How will people perceive me after viewing it? Does it reinforce the personal brand I am working to establish for myself? What would my boss think if he/she saw this? What would Grandma think?
Your online persona matters. People accept and interpret what you post, tweet or share as a representation of your true self. After all, it is “what’s on your mind.”
Let’s try to be more careful out there people.
What measures are you taking to ensure that your personal brand isn’t tarnished by social  misconduct?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

Zach Peacock is a Junior Public Relations major in the Journalism & Mass Communications Department at Murray State University (a fully accredited university in the Lakes region of West Kentucky). Peacock is passionate about humanitarian issues, music and effective communication. He hopes to graduate in the spring of 2012 and pursue a career in public relations. For more information, contact:

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