Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Social Media Manners: The Professional's Dilemma

Twitter is the center of fiasco and shenanigans, hence the Rihanna and Ciara dispute.  However, I question if individuals think about their "professionalism" that they must display in public including social media. I think that all PR pros and Brand Mangers would agree on stressing the importance of keeping a "clean image" (Clean image means that your brand reflects what your target audience expects of it).

As Professionals we look at our personal brands and we assume that they're "clean,"  but are they really clean? Do we project the appropriate images in which we should project? These questions are things that professionals should look at when incorporating ways to advance professionally with strong emphasis on Publicists and Brand Managers.

As a young PR pro I have encountered a few Rihanna-Ciara scenarios via social media that may have lost me that awesome business relationship or has caused my colleagues to look at me in another light. One thing I must stress is that to be a Professional you must be mature. Social Media can be a mixture of fun and entertainment, but some subjects should be left to discuss amongst your close friends. If you utilize social media for recreational purposes as well as business the key is to find that common ground so you are satisfying both purposes.

The key to professionalism via social media is to talk about things via your career field, interact with your followers with networking approaches and to participate in social media platforms that allow you to research and educate yourself.  I love the chats that take place via Twitter such as #BrandChat #PR20Chat #U30Pro and #IMCChat and utilize those platforms as a mean to network, learn and express.

However, I do not recommend a ROBOTIC, UN-HUMAN LIKE representation via social media. That approach makes you more prone to being unapproachable and unrealistic which may harm networking opportunities. Your "social media self" should be presented just like when you are dating; You shouldn't give too much of yourself, but enough to let others know you as a person. Post pictures of trips, talk about your favorite cat, share what books you are reading! I think my Twitter followers understand my obsession with music and love for fashion just by my tweets on Twitter.

Your language plays a role as well on social media. I come from a neighborhood in the inner city of Chicago called Englewood and I often fall victim to my speech reflecting the inner city jargon. Honestly, sometimes just being who you are gets you places. I was discussing hip hop via Twitter and began utilizing the language of my neighborhood I once lived as a child. I gained a relationship with a major media outlet's Editor who told me my "Chitown slang is dope."
Just like Mommy taught you to say "Thank you" and "Excuse Me," social media comes with its guidelines for professionals. If you wouldn't talk about your wild sex life on the microphone at church during testimony service then why would you blast it on Twitter amongst your fellow professionals? Yeah, the dilemma of being the ideal professional.....