May 16, 2011

Leaving Our Digital Footprint

Who's Watching Who

There is an old adage that the only person who is really concerned with you is you. The rest of us are far too busy worrying about us. But with the online world, that doesn’t stop us from being able to peer into each others’ life whenever it strikes our fancy.

Voyeurism is alive and well when we can leave our thoughts on a Facebook wall or Twitter stream and others can read a moment in time, any time they want. But I hear all too often "I just connect with my friends". That may be true, but it's often done in front of several hundred million people.

Ten to fifteen years ago, it was important for companies to have a place on the Internet where customers and potential customers could find out more about their offerings. Now it’s imperative for companies to not expect customers to come to them but rather they need to go where customers reside online. This is the difference between having a website and creating a web presence.

Watch Where You Step

With close to two billion of us surfing the web all trying to learn from each other, gain information, get each other’s attention and put our best out there, it can get distracting and overwhelming. Add to that, we are human, so we experience grumpy moments that can slip into our online activity. That flippant lash can hurt a company as evidenced by faux pas by many large respected brands in the last few years.

If you get into a heated discussion at work or with a customer, that is a one-on-one situation that can be diffused and resolved between the two of you. But when you engage in a similar discussion online you are doing it in front of anyone who cares to watch. And that makes companies nervous. Many are concerned about opening themselves up to the digital mob. After all, anyone with an Internet connect can publish anything they want.

Checking References

Human Resources managers and recruiters are using the social web more and more to find candidates for job openings and they aren’t just reading a well crafted resume or LinkedIn profile to gather information. That offhand remark you make on Quora can come back and bite you.

This is not to suggest we have to be perfect, because once you get that new gig you will need to be yourself but it does serve as a reminder that perhaps the next time we’re having a tough time or in a rough mood we may want to step away from the keyboard for a timeout.

Does that sound like a wise plan?

Kneale Mann

image credit: adrianakems
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