I love Facebook, I hate Facebook. I think many of us have this love hate relationship with social media. On the one hand we love to stay connected with our friends and family and on the other we hate being bombarded by complete social media garbage. I always tell my friends and colleagues seeking self-branding assistance that the first thing they need to do is establish their identity and treat their social media as a main point of outreach. I’m not in the business of telling people what their identity or story is, but I am in the business of helping people establish and tell a cohesive story.

(PS I celebrate on the regular that smart phones didn’t really become popular until after college!)

Below is a list of the consideration that EVERYONE should take and I want to say that I learned through making tons of mistakes with my social media (mainly before age 25):

  1. Decide on a voice and stick to it: People need to spend time reading back some of their old posts, picture, and video choices. Is that you? Is that the OVERALL you? Are you the Facebooker who is always seeking attention or support? Are you a Facebook troll? Are you the page who never has anything nice to say? All these identities are just fine, but it’s important to know where you fall because people will judge you. When I went back and read my old posts I looked like a total spaz who had not control my emotions. While I am still only OK at controlling my emotions, I do not air everything on Facebook. Believe it or not I plan most all my posts, the timing, and the message.

    I always advise people to put their best foot forward; however, I am known for my occasional rant and truth airing. That being said, that type of post from time to time is part of my identity and I always make sure it is factual, based on my personal experience, and minimally offensive. It is pretty hard to get through this world these days without offending SOMEONE, but it is harder to when what you are saying is factual. Speaking of which…
  2. Fact Check Yourself: You know that thing called google, it is so reliable!! Haven’t you heard? The amount of bad information, click-bate, and leading “news” articles posted in a day is enough to make any sane educated person to fall into a crazy downward spiral. This is always a tough place because people want to share information aligned with their opinion regardless of if it is all factual. Unfortunately our major media feeds into this creating far from true and often overblown news. Please, please, please fact check yourself from reliable sources. I will not make a political commentary right now, but do you really want your following to think you are an utter fool?

    Oh by the way, proper scientific researched was designed to DISPROVE current theories, so all those articles you post that say, science proved yadda yadda drives those of us crazy who have a background is any kind of science. Correlations are not proof, they are correlations. Your relationship with your significant other does not prove that you exist because they existed first. Get it? 

    People need to really start taking seriously how badly the major media in this country slant the truth and over sensationalize everything. I didn’t really believe it until I was in Africa during "The Revolution" and only had access to European and Middle Eastern news sources. What a reality check about US media. Based on what people were telling me back at home the world was literally falling down around me (ps it wasn’t). Not to say the situation wasn’t serious, but the media was literally ridiculous about it. While I was enjoying a great lunch in Tahrir Square on a Friday, the US media made it look like an active war zone weeks after the initial violence. This is why I have a business by the way. My day to day is doing good, factual, and effective marketing to combat the millions put into bad marketing and media. BUT WE ARE ONLY ONE COMPANY.
  3. Use your voice for good: Social media is an amazing tool. We have the ability to reach hundreds if not thousands of people with our message. Why not use your social media for good? Or to have the courage to stand for something? ANYTHING? This is often advice I give to actual businesses who stress over what should or shouldn’t be on Facebook. It is OK to stand for campaigns/issues that are accurate, driven by change, and align with your core values. Very little of what lands in my news feed is a real campaign (whether I agree or not). Life isn’t just about memes, cat videos, and red coffee cups. I totally am on board with a good laugh and love my friends who have the talent of giving me a good LOL in their own voice, but I think it’s time to start taking our message seriously. Who said you can’t have a good, useful message and be funny?
  4. Know your audience: We are in fact our own walking talking business entities. It is as important for people to understand their audience. When you are with your besties at a bar the conversation is very different than in a business meeting. The amazing thing about social media is that it in fact crosses across all our audiences. So…does your ENTIRE audience need to know you are hammered in a bar or on a swearing like a sailor rampage? My mom always told me to be nice to everyone because you never know who your future boss will be (guess I should have been nicer to myself). This same mentality should be used on social media. YOU NEVER KNOW WHO WILL BE WHO. That person you offended on facebook when you are 22 may be your future boss at 25. THIS HAPPENS, IT REALLY HAPPENS. I look up all my potential employees, business partners, and dates online. I have actually gotten referrals to people who could not act right online and I had to respectfully decline the referral. That online identity is critical.
  5. People forgive you for mistakes: Grammar, spelling, and the like are tough. Luckily, there is a good chance your following will forgive you. While I think people should do their best, I make mistakes on the regular. Thank goodness most social media sites now let you edit your post! Edit you’re, youre, no…your post.
  6. Be Kind: Social media can be such a nasty place. Being someone who was cyber bullied back in the AOL Instant Messenger days I know how hard social media can be. Why does anyone want to be THAT person? Be kind to people, be kind to businesses, be kind to your friends’ business, be kind to everyone. Life is much too serious and depressing for many to spend your time being a cyber bully. Unfortunately real life bullies never go away, but there is something so much more terrible about cyber bullies. The world needs more positivity and kindness. I always ask people to consider being that positive voice online. Of course we all have serious topics to share, but the positivity may also start trickling into your day to day if you choose a positive identity online (or visa versa).

It all matters, so much. I don’t know how much more I can stress that. I encourage those who who are interested to also check out my self-branding blog that goes across digital and physical identities. I do help people with these things and really enjoy doing it, so of course contact me if you are looking for assistance in establishing your personal brand!