Social Media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and YouTube are changing the way the world does business. I think this is in response to our desire to connect with others. Relationship Marketing is all about connecting with people first as human beings and then as customers later. For a real business relationship to work, both parties must receive value. If only one or neither does, that relationship won’t continue for long. Terry Brock
Social media, as a communication channel, offers you, as a professional, a unique opportunity to share information and insights. Need I say, it takes some common sense to know what’s appropriate? Once you post on social media, it is there forever.
Within every profession, there are standards of practice, confidentiality, ethics and trust issues to be maintained in communication and in your actions. Relationships are between yourself as a professional, and your colleagues, clients, with other professionals and the public at large are different than more personal relationships. If you have personal social media sites, you may want to ensure they have a professional look and feel – you don’t want something on a personal page to undermine your professionalism or reputation.
The challenge is not social media itself, but how you use it – both professionally and personally. Contrary to common belief, it is possible to combine both. Many professional associations have received complaints about how its members are using social media to communicate. Standards of Practice have been established in traditional “bricks and mortar” establishments, yet they are also applicable in the virtual world.
How to be a Professional on Social Media
My approach, and that shared by many organizations, is to consider yourself as two entities – one is the personal side of yourself, the other is your professional side.
A report by George Washington University states, “In recent years, social networking has become a ubiquitous part of our online society. Although the benefits of using these tools can be great, the risks can also be dire… the hazards of posting information to an online profile without weighing what it says about you as a potential employee have also become amplified.” Knowing how to protect your privacy, as well as always considering what you write or post before you hit “send” are key to ensuring your reputation is maintained.
Protecting your online—and professional—reputation is actually quite easy.
All it takes is some initiative, caution and thoughtfulness as you engage in social networking.
George Washington University Law School
Know Your Focus
You may also choose to be very clear in your bio information about your intentions. I have noted some professionals who state their professional role, a few personal interests and stipulate that posts or tweets are their own opinion and any entries shared or retweeted are not endorsements. This approach makes it very clear how you are using that particular social media platform and your intention, particularly if you work for a large organization or in a profession where your entries could be misconstrued unintentionally.
Remember… the medium is new but the same professional conduct and ethics apply.
Learn more in my ebook – Social Media for Professionals