Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Self-destruction through social media

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 4:30 PM

Whether you realize it or not, we are all, our own corporation. Each time we make a move, we are exposing ourselves to potential clients, employers, friends, business associates, or significant others. That’s why it is paramount that, at all times, we make conscientious attempts to protect our brand. Our brands are our reputations.

In today’s climate of instant Internet uploads, picture texting, video cameras and social media, protecting our brands is more difficult now than in any other time in history. Any transgression can be captured and uploaded for the world to see in less time that it takes to apologize for it. And once it’s in cyberspace, there is no stopping it, unless you’ve got the bottomless pockets of ESPN. They were able to get the video of star sideline report Erin Andrews walking around her hotel room naked virtually erased from the Internet. Unless you have ESPN money, don’t count on being able to achieve the same outcome.

One of the biggest ways I see people damage their brand is through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. These are wonderful tools for expanding your business and getting information out to large numbers of people. But that’s what makes them so dangerous. Thousands of people can see your thoughts in less than five minutes.

Most people damage their brands by posting profanity and vulgarity on their statuses. Profanity-laced Facebook statuses and inappropriate videos make you look juvenile, low rent and unprofessional. Employers and colleges often check Facebook to see what type of person is applying to their organization. Don't believe me? Check out this WSJ.com article.

I often advise professional athletes to clean their Facebook and Twitter pages because they can cost them endorsement contracts. It isn’t by chance that Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning are all over the television screen. They have sparkling images and well-protected brands. This makes them extremely marketable. However, Terrell Owens and Allen Iverson, though extremely popular and talented, rarely receive endorsement opportunities because unlike in years past, their ability cannot surpass their damaged images.

In addition, do not post negative things about your employer, or your job, on your social media pages. Last school term, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees — two of them teachers — were fired for their Facebook statuses. One only posted, “These kids are driving me crazy.” Those six words cost her her job. The boundaries of privacy are not quite as clear as they used to be. When you do things in the privacy of your own home that can be viewed outside the home, you relinquish your right to privacy, and thus it becomes public domain.

I hope you found this information useful and helpful, and it will assist you in protecting your brand. Until next time, God bless and dress well.

William Wilson is a nationally respected men’s clothier and image consultant. His clients include professional athletes, CEOs, and corporations. His homepage is www.WilliamtheClothier.com. Follow William on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/theclothier or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/williamtheclothier.

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