What kind of an image are you creating for prospective clients, who check out your social media updates?
I received an interesting email from a reader last night, which I would like to share with you. She asked if I would not use her name, so I am going to call her Barbara instead. Her email was short but contained a very valuable message. It’s something I have heard of many times and it’s becoming more and more common.
Here is the section, which Barbara agreed I could share with you:
I am writing this, hoping it will stop others from making the same idiotic error . Ive just had what would have been my second largest ever project cancelled. The client had verbally agreed to proceed and we had set a price. Lovely. I called today as agreed, to arrange the start date. That’s when he told me he’d changed his mind. Over the holidays he checked my social media messgaes, and now had concerns that I wasn’t suitable. He referenced that I sometimes sign-off from twitter after work saying something like “great, its wine o’clock.”
He told me he didn’t want to hire someone, who was so happy to finish work that they celebrated or someone with a drink problem. Here’s the kicker Jim, I don’t drink much at all. It’s what i see a lot of others saying. I explained this to him but understandably he didn’t believe me. I feel foolish for not thinking that potential clients would look at my tweets and reading them back its easy to see why someone would get the wrong idea about my drinking habits.
Our digital footprint
For me the interesting thing here, and the reason I decided to share Barbara’s email with you, is not whether it’s a good idea to tell people you look forward to drinking after work or not. Thankfully, we each have the freedom to say whatever we like, because it’s us who pay the price if we screw up or get the rewards if we don’t. No. What interested me about Barbara’s email, is this: More and more people are using our social media streams, as a way to check us out, before becoming one of our clients or customers or even recommending us to their contacts.
I used to follow someone, who was always tweeting about how stupid his clients were. He never named them, but would tweet what he called the stupid questions they were asking him. In other words, any of his clients reading his twitter stream, would know he was insulting them, from the questions he was making fun of with his friends. Is he free to do that if he wants to? Yes (thankfully). Would I recommend him to one of my clients or contacts, knowing he may insult them in that way? Not a chance!
The best advice on this subject that I know of, came from Brian Clark of copyblogger. Brian recently said that to be effective with social media, a businessperson needs to;
be authentic to the element of themselves, that meshes with their audience.
Seth Godin makes pretty much the same point in his book, All Marketers Are Liars.
That approach is how I use social media and it works extremely well for me. On my Twitter account and my Facebook account, you get a more professional version of me then you would experience, if you and I were at a football match and my team were losing. However, it’s still me. My core beliefs and values are the same at the game or in the office on Twitter / Facebook etc.
Over to you
Have you ever researched someone’s social media activity before hiring them (or recommending them)? Do you think it’s a good idea for business owners to think about the impact of what they openly share on social networks? Maybe you believe it’s a better idea to just say whatever you like, and keep it real?
I’m keen to learn what you think about this.
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Image: Pete Simon