The power of a personal brand has long been recognised by the recruitment industry, which makes mileage out of ensuring they achieve the perfect fit as often as possible. It is now commonplace for employers and recruiters to delve into our online worlds and sniff back along the virtual snail trail that leads a path to who we are and what we stand for.
Every time we traipse around Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and the like, commenting on photographs, posting status updates or sharing our opinions online, we leave behind indelible footprints that cannot be washed away by the tides of time.
With the ever-broadening scope of social media, it has become increasingly important for individuals and not just businesses to bear in mind that their reputation and how others might perceive them is impacted by their many social interactions. What you have spent so long building up can come crashing down so easily if you put a foot out of place. Or, more relevantly, speak out of turn.
A key factor in safeguarding your reputation is being able to maintain a consistent and cohesive personal brand. While it is perfectly acceptable to speak with a slightly different voice according to the medium used – Twitter encourages a more witty commentary and a cut-to-the-quick attitude, whereas Facebook is more relaxed, more social in the classic sense of the word – it should be borne in mind that they all represent who you are and, unless you restrict your security settings (and few of us do), they can be viewed by almost anyone. If there should be any contradiction in the image that we present, it could be picked up on and, in the wrong hands, it could seriously dent our personal or professional creditability.
This is not to say social media is a bad thing – far from it – but it serves well to sense check anything you say online: Is that how you would want your mother, spouse or boss to hear you speak? If it is not, then it is probably best to adapt your language, bite your tongue, or pick a less public route to getting across what you want to say.
Remember, you are the gatekeeper of your own brand. You produce the brand guidelines relevant to whom you are and how you want to be perceived. You also control the adherence to those standards. Bear that in mind next time your finger hovers over the keys to post a cutting comment of witty retort.