Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Tainted Love: Foursquare’s Unintended Side Effects   1 comment

What if your employees’ personal lives and “off the record” opinions defined your company? Not how they perform at work. Not just senior management. Any employee, going about their normal life. If your employees are avid users of social media and your company is not, then there’s a good chance they are the ones defining your company online–perhaps without even realizing it. Even employees who love their company may unintentionally taint its reputation.

Recently I was researching a couple of companies online in order to provide friends with some social media tips. These companies have minimal “official” social media presences, but one thing in particular jumped out at me: their employees are using Foursquare. Often. And the picture it paints is not always pretty.

So why pick on Foursquare? What makes it different?Foursquare Badges If an employee is blogging, or even micro-blogging, they are conscious of what they’re writing and the online presence they are creating. However, when they check into a place on Foursquare they are more likely to be “in the moment” and less likely to be thinking of the business implications of those check-ins. They might include an off-hand comment that suits the moment, such as checking into their favorite bar on a Friday night and commenting, “Epic party! Buying the next round of shots!” If their Foursquare account is linked to their Twitter account, and many of them are, then the entire Twitterverse is now privy to their fun.

“What employees do on their own time is their business,” you might say. “As long as they’re not identifying themselves as an employee or sending inappropriate messages on behalf of the company it’s not a problem.” This is where Foursquare closes the loop and your reputation takes a hit. What I found when researching these companies is that those same employees who partied on Friday night were using Foursquare to check into work come Monday morning.  Now your company name is attached to that person and any other activities they publish. When someone does a search for your company in the social media sphere those Foursquare updates can come up big and bold. Depending on the strength of your company’s official online presence, those check-ins may appear in a simple Google search of your company.

The other thing I was shocked to find during my research was employees using Foursquare to check into work–and writing disparaging comments about work when checking in! Unhappy employees were casually venting their frustration to Foursquare and, by extension, Twitter and the rest of the Internet.

Is this the branding kiss of death? Of course not. Might it make some people think twice about working with or for you? Maybe. We all fight night and day for a piece of the customer’s pie and none of us need to put speed bumps or road blocks in their way.

The moral of the story?

In the absence of other social media activity, Foursquare updates can define your company online.

Stay tuned for future posts with recommendations on how to minimize the impact of these activities on your company and keep your employees’ love from tainting your online reputation. (Here’s a hint: Banning the use of social media by employees is NOT the answer!)


Photo credit: Nan Palmero via Flickr

The three faces of Lindsay   1 comment

Multiple personality disorderI have a secret. When I’m alone or at home, I sometimes…swear. That’s right, when left to my own devices, especially in my car, I let loose with an occasional f-bomb or other vulgar obscenity. Why am I telling you this? Because chances are you will never experience it firsthand. If you are someone I interact with professionally, you will be very hard-pressed to ever hear me utter such a word. I have a professional persona to live up to and that persona does not swear. And I think this is a necessary thing in the business world–and the online world.

Will the real Lindsay Ball please stand up?
Some people believe it is disingenuous to have personas. “You should be your true self all the time,” I’ve been told. But we all have multiple personalities. The “public” you vs. the “private” you. The you that your family sees, the you that your friends see, the you that your other friends see. I don’t think of it as not being “me” though. “Me” constitutes an entire range of emotions, likes, dislikes, and other distinctive personality traits. Different people and situations bring out different aspects of my personality. I listen to country music with some friends and Top 40 with others. I believe this helps me succeed.

Birth of a persona
While I might enjoy letting loose in my car, not all of my colleagues may appreciate this behavior. And so the business persona is born. It’s still me, but the traits that are most suitable for a business setting are highlighted and others are downplayed. I love my jeans and flip flops on the weekend, but that doesn’t mean I wear them to work. Same goes for the online world. Everything that I say online is my own true thought, but they are just snippets of the whole me, just one color out of the Crayon box.

I’ve also taken this concept a step further online. I have decided that, for me, LinkedIn is the online equivalent of office Lindsay. Twitter is happy hour Lindsay–still professional, but a bit more casual. Facebook is weekend Lindsay so I don’t use it for work. The challenge is when people begin to not like their own persona. That’s when it becomes fake and not a true representation of yourself. I am thankful this isn’t a problem for me, but I can sense when other people don’t believe or don’t like the front they’re putting on. It’s important that these other yous are still YOU. Being genuine is key.

The best “me” for the situation
Identifying who I am in different situations allows me to bring out the parts of my personality that are best suited for each of those situations. It means not cursing at the office. It means not pestering my LinkedIn contacts with drivel about my day that my Facebook friends are more willing to suffer through. That way the people who interact with me in each of those places know what to expect from me. In the workplace this helps me be seen as dependable.

So keep your work persona clean, but don’t be afraid to let loose with an F-bomb in the comfort and safety of your car. As long as you’re not carpooling.

Image Credit: Idol via Flickr