Sorry, but I didn’t Stumble your post, even though you asked nicely and you’re my friend. Why didn’t I? After all, it was a great post about overcoming addiction.
Sorry, but I didn’t Digg your post, even though normally I would do so. But I didn’t touch your Digg submission, which was a news article about the upcoming 2008 presidential election.
Your Reddit submission on a religious topic? Nope. Your del.icio.us bookmark of revealing photographs of a beautiful celebrity? Nope.
Death by a Thousand Tweets
Collectively, your social media activities paint a picture about you to other people. What is it a picture of? I use Twitter a lot (and that’s an understatement), and I’ve been thinking about what I’m really saying and what kind of profile of me my followers hold in their minds.
I let my hair down a little on Twitter (if you’ve seen me, lately, you should be snorting right now) and I say things I wouldn’t here on Remarkablogger. Sometimes I swear. I engage in conversations that aren’t about blogging. I submit links to stuff on the web that interest me and may interest my followers, too–but they’re not always about blogging. Not everybody would like them.
With each tweet that I write, each @reply I send, I could be adding brush strokes to a picture I never intended to paint. It could be an unflattering self-portrait or it could be a joyful, exciting slice-of-life image of a real human being others want to get to know.
Stumbling into the Wrong Side of Town
What does my StubleUpon page say about me? If there were stumbles to articles on overcoming addiction, what might someone deduce from that, for better or worse? That I have an addiction problem?
If I had a bunch of del.icio.us bookmarks to black hat SEO and sleazebag internet marketings sites, what would that say about me? You want me to associate my name with that? Hmm. I don’t think so.
What if many of my stumbles were political or religious in nature? I don’t care who you’re voting for or how you feel about abortion. I don’t want you to know what I think about these subjects. We could forgive each other’s taste in music, but some subjects just don’t need to enter into this picture.
We are real people. We are more than the public face that is meant to look nice for clients. We are more complex than the string of links which, for better or worse, builds our online reputations. So, even though managing our online reputations is vital, what can we do to feel like we’re real human beings and not just our public selves? Read on for some ideas…
Have Multiple Accounts
Having more than one account for the same social media service is not just something spammers do. Many people do it, and they have perfectly good reasons for it. I have two Twitter accounts and several email accounts.
Use Privacy Settings
Many social media and blogging services have privacy settings. I can hide my tweets from the public if I want. Facebook, Blogger, Vox, Flickr, Viddler, and other services let you choose who can see your stuff and who doesn’t.
You could always say, “Screw it, I don’t care.” Some people can do that, some can’t. For me, it’s not really an issue of caring or not, it’s an issue of crafting and shaping my online legacy, because everything we do online seems to be there forever.
People wouldn’t be following me on Twitter if they didn’t like what I was doing. I am showing some restraint–again, keeping religion and politics out of it. But otherwise it’s not the usual blog consulting stuff.
I think I’m striking the right balance. But it’s a carefully thought-out balance. How carefully are you thinking out your social media palette of colors? Should you be concerned with what you’re doing in social media affecting your overall reputation online?
What picture are your social media activities painting about you?
Let’s talk about this. I’d love to have your thoughts and comments below.
Photos by Free Parking