Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about some celebrity or public figure getting in trouble for something they posted on social media. The opportunities the internet offers for collaboration, publishing, and discussion have a dark side as well. Imprudent posting by leaders can end up coming back to haunt an organization, or individual, at the worst possible moment.
It’s easy for leaders to simply do the risk-reward calculation and decide not to participate. I think that’s a mistake. Engagement in the conversation, be it professional or personal, is an important part of the 21st Century business environment. The trick is to be smart about how you participate.
Posting too much can get you sent to “Twitter Jail” (h/t Lawrence Wray), and posting too little can get you overlooked.
I encourage leaders to manage their social media accounts carefully. In fact, I think of how I engage on social media personally the same way I engage professionally because the public (and peers) don’t really see a difference. If you treat each post like a “press release” then you’ll have a good rule for what to write. The same goes for email, by the way: every email is public. Don’t write anything you don’t want posted on the company bulletin board.
But beyond just social media, there’s the entire online presence that needs attention. Even if you’re not active in social media, all leaders and especially senior leaders, have an online “profile.” Steve Cody and Sam Ford have written a great little primer over at Inc.com. Worth the read: 7 Reasons You Need to Manage Your Online Presence More Carefully
The bottom line is this: leaders need to understand their public persona extends into cyberspace and manage it deliberately.