Who is Lisa Marcia - Professional vs. Personal Social Media

I had a great conversation with a friend of mine the other day and I felt more confirmed in my thoughts and how I would present them. This is almost an elaboration on my first "Who is Lisa" blog series, but more focused on social media as a whole. Oh....social media. How I love & hate thee. I've realized I do not hate the machine, I cannot get over how we've allowed it to control out lives. Remember Facebook when it only allowed college .edu email addresses? Back in 2004, it was ancient looking and something I knew would take off. Let's just say I was an early adopter, never knowing this would become part of my business 6 years later. Facebook was initially created for college students to connect with one another. 

Twitter is one of those platforms that is precarious and delicate. I tell most of my clients that this is not a means to an end. It's a form of community building, branding and advertising. Most people don't think of it that way because they only think they are acting socially. Initially, Twitter was started as an instant feed of information, like breaking news for people sharing everything down to what they were eating for breakfast instantly. I understood it, but have always subscribed to the fact that Twitter creators knew better. I mean, how would they make their money to subsidize all their solely social users? 

If you're a twitter user and are sharing information freely without having a locked account, you're creating an online "brand" of yourself. You're in the business of self-promotion. It doesn't matter if you're sharing pictures of your little ones, promoting a new CD, sharing your views on church, politics or child-rearing. This is who you become labeled as online. For professional branding, there are rules. It's more strategy than it is social, although the social element doesn't become a bystander, but a machine of interaction that can make or break a brand. McDonald's lately has been on the firing block because of their lack of forethought when it comes to how this will be perceived. Gotta think folks!

Social media on a professional level is a beautiful concoction of instant access and marketing expertise. Seeing some people recently promote themselves and see the machine take over for a few hours was awesome from a branding perspective. It's what it was created to do. I can't think of a better tool honestly for most artists, speakers and small businesses. Granted, large corporations have made strides in continuing continuity of their brand, but the smaller fish are who I like to see succeed in this area. Acknowledging it's positives, also means there is a dark side. It's the part that can take over your life and consume you personally. If it's not managed correctly it will bury you, your brand and your online presence. This is where the professionals come in to assist in managing these things for you. It's the hardest thing to sell people on because we all "tweet" or use Facebook, so we think we've got it all figured out. Branding is a serious and strategic process that can use social media, but without systems in place to manage it's capabilities, it will unravel.

Today, I look at my 99 followers and laugh, thinking, "If 99 people care about what I have to share, it surprises me." With that said, I'm always surprised about how people can take a 140 character posting and pinhole people's entire being. I've found professionally and personally that our communities judge us based on these sound bites. Something I'd like to share publicly. If you follow me on any platform of social media, I know you personally. If my reputation doesn't preceded my postings then there's an issue. If what I say on Twitter, Facebook or my blog causes you to harshly judge me outside of any personal interaction, then where do we really stand? Granted, I might take a viewpoint you disagree with, that's perfectly okay. Maybe I'm too direct or call to light things that make others uncomfortable. I'm okay with those differences and judgments.

My Challenge to my clients and myself: Intent and delivery should never waver from how one would act in person. Relationships on social media, RT's or @mentions are those you choose to have. If you're out there in social media land for professional reasons, then by all means, self-promote the heck out of yourself. I think that when we take the same strategy on a personal level, it gets murky for me. 

Defining who you are socially is one thing, but when you post it for the world to see you need to make sure that your own insecurities of having this "out there" are in check. Why do I bring this up? Time after time, I see community members take stabs at one another. It starts with looking to social media for your identity in your community. I call this the beastly trap of SMS (Social Media Syndrome). 

SMS Symtoms
Have you ever had these thoughts...
  • Why did @person go to lunch with them and not invite me?
  • Oh, so they're friends now? Didn't see that coming.
  • Gee, it seems like @person and @person2 are always tweeting with one another.
  • I'm going to tweet this because it will make me look ______________
  • If I had a great hang with @person, that means I need to hang out with @person2 so they aren't offended.
  • No one responded to my post, blog, picture, tweet, etc. Nobody cares about me.  
  • That person got more likes on their picture. I'm jealous of that.

Let's face it. Getting a RT, shoutout, or response to things feels good. There's no harm in that. In fact, that's normal. My observation is that these thoughts go beyond the normal, "Cool, they thought what I said was worth reading, or funny or....." It starts to define you. This is the danger zone and I beg of you to steer clear. Nothing reeks more than jealousy and self-deprecation because of an indirect omission on social media. Basically, don't let it ruin your life because you don't think you're the "cool kid" on one of these platforms. If we start deducing our status to what people say about us here, we're allowing the machine to own our self-worth. It was never created to do that. But, we've given it the power. Let's take it back!

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