In the weeks leading up to the Olympics, I read dozens of stories about the impact social media — Twitter in particular — would have on the 2012 games. According to a recent USA Today story, there were more Tweets about the Olympics during a single day in July than there were during the entire 2008 Olympics. Twitter offers a perspective on the Olympics that we’ve never had before — from instantaneous updates on the events from spectators to thoughts and opinions from coaches and athletes. It’s fascinating to hear first-hand, unfiltered accounts of the Olympics from insiders who experience the games in a way that most of us will never get to.
This open communication channel also poses huge risks. It’s a lesson that Greek track competitor Voula Papachristou and Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella learned the hard way when both were expelled from the competition after controversial Tweets. As social media continues to expand, our personal and professional worlds will collide more frequently, as they did for Papachristou and Morganella. And there’s a lesson here for all of us. If you’re going to grab the social media megaphone, remember that people are listening — from your spouse, to your kids, your friends, your boss, and maybe even future hiring managers and colleagues.
I treat all social media venues like a public forum, not a private conversation. I realize that every post is a reflection of my personal brand — they are a reflection on my company as well. So my rule of thumb: I won’t post anything on Twitter, Facebook or this blog that I wouldn’t be comfortable saying to my boss or to ManpowerGroup’s CEO or even to my mother. I suspect that Papachristou and Morganella would not have repeated their Tweets to the Olympic Committees that expelled them. This simple litmus test could have prevented the heartache and regret both are experiencing as they watch their teammates participate rather than compete alongside them.
Do you have any guidelines or self-imposed rules when it comes to ensuring that your social media persona conveys the right impression of your personal brand?