Last week I spoke to a group of local high school boys about how to safely and responsibly use tools like Facebook and Twitter. As you can probably guess, those tools are very popular with kids these days. The problem is, they many times use them inappropriately or recklessly.
What I tried to get them to understand is that, these days, we live in a world where social media is mainstream. Perhaps 5 years ago, you could have gotten away with some ‘extreme behavior’ on Facebook, because nobody knew what it was and no one was looking at it. Today, your co-workers, employers, and even potential employers are using these tools as ways to increase their ability to network with you, as well as research who you are and what you’re about.
So essentially, these days we have to start realizing that our online behavior, and the information that can be found about us online, all impact our ‘personal brand’. For entertainers and professional athletes, this is not a new concept. Developing and protecting their ‘brand’ is a part of their business, and affects their earning potential. But now, regular folks like you and I also have a brand to protect, and yes it can even affect our earning potential as potential employers use our brand to determine whether or not we would make a good asset to their company. For entertainers, traditional media is the playing field for their brand – mainly TV and print. For us, the playing field is the ever-growing ecosystem of social networking sites.
I was told by teachers at the event that they heard a lot of good comments from the students after my presentation. It sounds like my advice really made them think about their use of these tools. But I also had some of the adults who attended the talk thank me afterwards as well – apparently even us grownups still have some things we can learn about using social media these days. :-)
You can view the handouts I used here.