Social Media tools have an enormous power to put you in contact with thousands of people. As I have said on numerous occasions though, attention on its own is useless, what are you going to do with that attention?
If you want to build your online brand you have to know how all your activities work together. You need a consistency and congruency. Each part of the social media puzzle builds into a picture people have of you, how they imagine you to be relates to how you really are to the degree you get this stuff right.
If you are approaching social media in a haphazard way, do not be surprised if things do not work out exactly as you hoped or imagined they would.
You Choose Who You Are
We are judged by what we say, how we say it and who we associate with. All choices we make, not things that happen to us by chance.
If you are constantly being seen with the snarky, attacking, abusive people on Twitter, then you will be seen as in their gang. When your pictures often appear in the saucier flickr groups then that is the impression people will have of you, regardless of your PHD in nuclear physics. We do not get the whole picture online, we see what is right in front of us, and that means we will jump to conclusions and you will be guilty until proven innocent.
Since Michael wrote about what your social media activities say about you I have been thinking about this a lot. Having been online for a long time, there is not much I can do to claw back what is out there. I haven’t exactly played fast and loose with my online reputation, but then I have not been too sophisticated with it either.
I have clients from all sorts of industries and walks of life. Who my clients are have been used to attack me in the past. Should I with this in mind be revealing my clients through StumbleUpon votes?
Best to choose now who you are, what your values are, and where you draw the line between openness and TMI (too much information). Thankfully I clued up about 10 years ago some things I would never write about, but still there are aspects of my life I think really ought to have been kept private.
Joining the Social Media Dots
The best way to approach social media is to choose your venues and connect them in some way to your blog. Keep your blog as the main representation of “you” online. That is where you best stuff is going to be, your archive, portfolio or resume. If someone Googles you, this is what you want to appear, not your virtual facebook sheep or your drunken accidental flickr pics.
With a good core blog, you can further reinforce this positive brand. Have conversations on Twitter, share your pictures, guest post and comment. Participate in forums that relate to what you do and your audience. Above all where you want connections to be made, use a consistent avatar, nickname and style. Connect all the profiles back to your blog, and where appropriate link out to the social media sites.
As you can see, I link to my Twitter account from here and occasionally will link to my Flickr through my pictures. While this helps grow my connections on those services it does mean that I have to use privacy settings on Flickr and on Twitter I need to be aware of what I am saying!
Are you conscious about the brand you are building in social media sites or do you just try to be yourself and let people take away what they will? Do you connect your online activities or are they in silos? Please share your thoughts in the comments …