Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Personal vs Professional online reputation - How important is your social media persona?

Is your online self your actual self? Most people, if being honest, would say no. We project images and refined thoughts out into the online world but they are not a good basis to define yourself. The uncomfortable thing is, this is the 'self' that is most likely to be seen. Are you concerned with how you are viewed online? And not just on a personal or social level but how about in the business world of social media... The borders are getting blurred and people and their products are getting a little tense about how to keep their work and personal lives separate.

Image:http://i.huffpost.com

At first the idea of creating an online persona is very inviting; for both individuals and people alike. There is a blank canvas you get to create and you know it is going to be put in the biggest gallery around - social media. So what are the advantages of having an online persona and is it avoidable? The answer is no you cannot avoid it and, in fact, it is helpful to have some form of identity. The stronger your identity is the more concrete your intentions can become.
Online reputation is something we all worry about and we do everything we can to prevent an embarrassing or incriminating tag... because we care about what people think. Now, if you are on Facebook your audience are usually just family and friends, maybe colleagues - this is potentially a low-risk site. Instagram is potentially even lower as most of your followers you may not even know anyway. But when it comes to Twitter and especially LinkedIn you must be careful.

Balancing our professional and personal lives has never been more complicated, especially if you work in a domain that directly uses social media to promote your companies product. But, lets be honest, most companies are online and we are generally encouraged to promote who you work for online. Especially if they get you big bonuses or prizes for hitting targets. Be honest, you have put pictures of your works annual day out or Christmas party online.

 

With the prominence of social media still growing it makes us wonder how much of our real self can be seen online. I think when it comes to personal vs. professional it is best to keep them separate. There is nothing wrong with having more than one account on a social media site; often people use a pseudonym for their personal accounts. They can then be untraceable and keep their personal life completely detached from their online persona.

So what about online personas of businesses? How important is your online business reputation?

'Persona' are one company who want to tell us the answers. They are a startup company that are tackling this tricky subject. An American based startup they give the impression of a sort of self help company that will help manage your online persona.

This is a very nice thing for them to provide and I am sure other companies are available out there that give a similar service. I understand how if you are running a business, this would be extremely useful. It gives you the information and guidelines you need to have social media work for you; and a fool proof plan to keep yourself and your businesses reputation top notch.

In business terms, yes this is important and I am sure many companies will utilise this information. Personally, when it comes to managing your personal social media, as I have said before - keep them separate. I know we all live online now but you are not only what you show yourself as online; you are a person. It is slightly regrettable that we are currently just judged by digital information but we live in a fast paced world and we judge and are judged on a tiny speck of information.

My advice is just to be aware of who can see what of you online. Social media can be a double edged sword; if you want to boost your online reputation then there are ways to do this. If you want to keep a low profile, there are also ways to do this - you may just have to look a little harder.