Quoth the Lion King: Remember Who You Are: “Social Media Identity and the Real You”

Padlock and chain locked together on white background, close-upI fully expect this post will stir up heated emotions. Let the venom spewing begin because I’m going on a ledge here. I’m asking a question, looking for feedback and pointing out my own experience. Feel free to sound off.

Here’s the thought: Beware the identity “lockdown” in your social media identity.

In my undergrad I was subjected to lecture after lecture about the social media “lockdown” I must partake in or risk being ostracized from the job market for a pic of me with a beer, or *gasp* the fact that I have opinions.  I, like many of my young impressionable counterparts, cowered and said – okay  – immediately playing damage control. 

By no means am I condoning the escapades of college freshpeople (being politically correct the way my lib arts school taught me, they’d be proud) but I am saying slow the purge a bit.

Here’s my thoughts based on experiences in nonprofit, broadcast (on-air and off), enterprise and small business ownership. Social media today is a reflection of your personal brand. Your personal brand should be a reflection of you. Not a canned, expected duplicate of the same folks going for the same jobs, interviews, and clients as you.

*Break*

If I was on-air right nowI’d hit a button to start playing Malvina Reynolds in an attempt to drive home my point.

This will have to suffice… go check it out on  YouTube… search “Malvina Reynolds Little Boxes”…I’m particularly interested in verse 2 . . . go on. .  .Control “new tab”… I’ll wait.

*Resume*

Okay, point?

Social media is changing the game. We can’t be put in boxes and expected to participate in the many-to-many communication revolution.

Whether you are a doctor, a lawyer or a business executive (if you actually listened to the song, the repetition was intended) no one wants to do business with a wall, if you lockdown your identity, thats what you become.

I’ve found on-air that when I allow my personality to duplicate across social media, I have a better reaction and more opportunities for brand interactivity. I have also found that people buy into the brand of me in entrepeneurship, not my business brand, additionally in a public relations function, it’s all about building a relationship. I don’t know ANYONE who counts a “wall” as part of their following or as the person to give a tip to, a great story to, a sales lead, well you get the idea, this applies across industries.

Of course, I’m leaving a huge gap in my theory. There must exist a balance in your identity between what your colleagues see of you and what your grandma sees of you. Find that and you’ve found the sweet spot. Three quick thoughts:

1.) Don’t avoid polarizing discussions, everyone has opinions and we aren’t mindless creatures. I’m reminded of a quote from George Burton Adams

“There is no such thing as a “self-made” man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.”

We are as diverse in our views as we are in our friendships and acquaintances. When I lecture to college students, I remind them that employers aren’t just buying into them, if they’re in the mass communications or marketing field, employers are buying into their “stock” and the many pieces that make up their identity.

2.) Candid photos are great. They show your human-side, but use common sense. The pic from your pledge days at delta delta whatever should probably be on the purge list.

3.) Be prepared to justify your likes and interests (especially to an employer). You don’t have to hide it all, just be ready to answer to it if you need to. I do encourage journalism students to avoid political and religious affiliations for obvious reasons, but don’t feel like you have to hide your love for Drew Barrymore movies.

My closing thoughts? Just in person-to-person networking, your personal stock is what will sell you across social media. Take the words of Oscar Wilde and run free friends.

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

-Oscar Wilde

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