Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Risks of an Online Social Media Presence

The risks of using social media can be grouped into three categories.

The first risk is how you manage social capital. With whom do you connect? The boundary between personal and professional spaces, and between private and public audiences, is blurry. For example, should work colleagues be your Facebook friends? If so, how do you ensure that your nonwork friends don't post pictures or comments that could hurt you professionally? If not, how do you tactfully decline requests to connect? No one should assume that a private social media presence will stay that way. On the flip side, opening yourself up to the public poses its own risks. How do you vet the people with whom you are connecting? How do you respond to inaccurate or abusive posts? My advice is to build your audience slowly and be selective about your contacts.

The second risk is about managing intellectual capital. What do you communicate about? Corporate communications and legal departments tend to worry about employees who are active online. One concern is that the company's message will be muddied; another is a possible breach of industry guidelines or government regulation. Still another is concern over intellectual property: The law is tricky when it comes to ideas developed on a social network. The personal/professional and public/private divides also come into play. Seventy-five percent of U.S. recruiters and human resources professionals say they research candidates online, and tales of employees fired by bosses who disapproved of their Facebook or blog content are common. What you say online matters, especially because it can be very difficult to erase (at least until the future that Eric Schmidt envisions—the one in which people can start fresh with new profiles at age 21—becomes reality). Set some guidelines about what information you should and should not disclose. Be authentic and consistent across spheres, online and in other media. And remember that anything you want to keep private and maintain control over should not be posted on a social media platform.

The third risk is managing your progress. How do you maintain momentum? The success of your social media strategy will depend on your resources and the quality and authenticity of your message. But how do you ensure you're not wasting your time? It's easy to tell how many Facebook friends and Twitter followers you have, but, depending on your goals, you should also consider social media monitoring tools, such as Google Alerts and TweetDeck (both are free) or Radian6 and Fisheye Analytics (both charge a fee). To evaluate whether you're engaging and learning effectively, keep track of how many useful connections you make each month or the number of ideas you develop as a result of social media interaction.

Social media are here to stay. They are changing the way we do business and how leaders are perceived, from the shop floor to the C-suite. And they give leaders a new, low-cost tool for personal branding, engaging in conversations with stakeholders, and learning from new sources. By looking closely at your goals as a person and a professional, your target audience, and your resources, you can choose the platform that's right for you and head off any risks

Sent from my iPadc

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