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Social Media Merging Online Reputation, Personal & Business

The online craze that is social media or social networking is creating a greater overlap between an individual’s personal and business reputations.

For most of us, this phenomenon is most evident from Facebook. Facebook is now the largest of the social media networks, closely followed by MySpace. MySpace, however, is a younger demographic or heavily entertainment (notably music) oriented. LinkedIn is what many of us believe is the professional’s online social network of choice. Yet, my rough guess says this is only true if you were born after about 1976, or so. If you were born earlier than 1976, odds are that the vast majority of your online connections are on Facebook.

The effect is that Facebook is only going to get bigger, having already secured the mindshare of the professionals and managers of the future. …and, although the LinkedIn crowd are not Luddites – in fact they are online in high percentages – this group can’t grow at the rate of professionals on Facebook.

This matters because the social connections and activities we do, while younger, are becoming documented on communities, such as Facebook.

As one looks at the entirety of social media offerings – and see the interconnections made by the OpenSocial standards – one can see how photographs, vacations planned, sports, and many personal events are documented and commented upon within Facebook or posted across all of your social networks via interlocking feeds.

For business professionals this requires two actions: the first is to embrace, not fear social media; and the second is two actively participate.

As a dear friend once said, “a friend is someone who knows you and likes you anyway.” What this really means is that people respond to authenticity – to the real you. Fearing social media deprives you of the opportunity and pleasure of knowing and working with people who appreciate you. This works for your employer, too. Customers seek the same authenticity in dealing with suppliers (vendors). Companies, like yours are comprised of real people – so be real.

Active participation is a key because you can’t be authentic, if invisible. You can’t get your secretary (personal assistant), mom, or child to be the authentic you online. Moreover, as social media adoption continues to take off, you as a professional, manager, or executive fall further behind in “getting it.” You don’t need to compete for the most connections, but you should seek out your real life friends and connect with them online.

In another blog post, I’ll cover what I believe constitutes a minimal professional (and business) presence for today’s social media.

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LinkedIn + Facebook + Twitter Lead The Social Media Charge For Today’s Business (& Business Professional)

Businesses and individuals increasingly see the value in online social media for industry connections or introductions and clearly for employment opportunities. Beyond these are company branding, business reputation management, and professional business networking. It is true that online networking can degenerate into the kind of networking event where you show up and everyone else is there to sell you what they have. But most online social networking can be contained to the important kind, not just a virtual room of vulturous vendors. “Old Style” professional connections are not dead, they’ve just met up with the latest technology tools. These tools, such as LinkedIn (very B2B), Facebook (evolving to more B2B from a college-oriented service at it’s start), and MySpace (very B2C and younger) let your firm have an online page or presence with it’s own fans. These connections are individuals connecting to the business. Some list current and former employees. They are increasingly tied to other feeds, maybe your great press coverage. In any case, a forum where your firm and customer experiences are discussed. Beginning to see the value in monitoring and participating? The better known online social media services enable personal or professional, 1-to-1 connections. These services provide access and information on you and your firm. Here is a minimal plan for a social media presence for you and the company: – Customer-facing employees should be on LinkedIn and Facebook, and participate – The company should have it’s own page on LinkedIn and Facebook – Employees should have a photograph on their LinkedIn page – most do not – Press releases and news should be aggregated on the company Website and probably via online services, such as del.icio.us (also now at Delicious.com), Digg.com, Reddit.com, or StumbleUpon.com – News and events can be posted on Twitter. Direct messages or replies on Twitter should be monitored, so you may respond – engaging with the audience for your firm. There it is, a straightforward way to implement social media at your company. Remember that these tools represent are an innovation – just like any new tool that you might adopt for the business – so think of Social Media tools as part of the company’s continual improvement program. (I’m a fan of W. Edwards Deming, a famous proponent of quality and continual improvement). Call Jim at 770/642-2080, x218 to talk more about social media for business.

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SoCon 2009, Twitter hash #socon09

Attended SoCon '09 at Kennesaw State University on 7 February 2009; also the dinner the night before.  Enjoyed the break-out sessions, on “Social Media For Social Change” hosted by Tessa Horehled ( http://atlantanstogether.org/) on “Online Etiquette: How To Balance Your Personal and Professional Image Online” hosted by Amber Rhea.