You’ve just setup a new company, and you think it’s going to be big. It’s got everything – all the bells and whistles that you could ever possibly want. It addresses all of the concerns that you’ve ever had in regard to the jobs you’ve held in the past. No questionable benefits for your employees! A great vacation plan! Flexible schedules and a sick day policy that works to address all of the gripes that you’ve had in the past.
You’ve got a winning product, one that’s sure to make your company an overnight success, and a marketing plan that’s guaranteed to ensure that the product you’ve created catches the attention of the masses. You’re pleased. It’s taken years of hard work and dedication, but nothing could possibly go wrong, right?
Your Social Media
Over the years you have amassed profiles in a variety of different places. Your long-ago MySpace account hasn’t been touched in almost a decade, though it’s still out there. You’ve got a G+ profile that you don’t use much, a Facebook profile, and a LinkedIn profile, and you even, if you’re old enough, may still have a profile floating about in AOL land somewhere.
You may not use any of these accounts anymore, but they still exist, and with them so does all of the information you posted. That time with the tequila and your friends out on the beach, that time you ranted about your boss and how much you hated his guts, and maybe even that time you streaked down the football field back in college is documented somewhere. This information may be about to come back to haunt you.
Cause And Effect
Picture this: Your company’s marketing campaign is a huge success. Your product has just taken off, and people are clamoring to get a hold of you to find out just what your secret is. Then someone pulls up Google. Thirty seconds later and *BAM* you’ve just gotten some of the worst publicity of your life. All that stuff you put up on social media? It’s now a part of the daily news. This may seem far-fetched, but today we truly live in a digital world; after all, that’s why you’re reading this online, right?
The Fact Of The Matter
The truth is, I’ve seen not one, not two, not even three, but five news articles within the past two days from legitimate online news sites that have utilized information in an individual’s social media profile as legitimate sources, linking those profiles to the readers of the article for all to click through and view. The fact of the matter is that no matter how “private” you set your profile up to be, there is still information that can be gathered by others and used as a means of making a determination or judgment against you just because you’ve placed it on a social media site.
What To Do?
Social media can be a beneficial tool for businesses, allowing them to connect with their customers and their target market in ways that were not possible in the past, but it’s a two way street. Before you launch that product of yours, before you start up that company, go to the old social media sites that you don’t use anymore and delete your old profiles.
Set everything to private that you wouldn’t want that nice little old lady down the street from you to read or to see. Make sure to untag yourself from all those pesky photos of that time you went to Vegas. Ask your friends to take down embarrassing photos, explaining that it’s nothing personal, but that your online reputation could suffer as a result. Don’t stop doing the fun stuff, just don’t broadcast it for the world to see.
I was a part of the generation that received in-home Internet access for the first time as teenagers – most of the embarrassing stuff that we did never made it online – primarily because these social media sites didn’t exist at this time. I’m now a part of that first generation of parents whose children are growing up with the Internet and technologies as a part of their everyday lives; the best bit of advice I can give you is the same thing I tell my kiddo: “It’s okay to keep your personal life personal; the whole world doesn’t have to know what you do all the time. And if it’s something you know you would get in trouble with me for doing, you darn sure don’t want strangers knowing about it either.”
Think of it like that – if you don’t want your mother, or your grandparents seeing you do something, there’s a good chance you don’t want your potential customers seeing it either. Clean up your online presence and then launch the product. Trust me; you’ll be glad you did.
Image Source: Millet, J. (n.d.). Woman Sweeping Her Home. Retrieved from http://www.canvasreplicas.com/images/Woman%20Sweeping%20Her%20Home%20Jean%20Francois%20Millet.jpg