Part Two – the Brand of “Me”
While he was on leave a few months ago, a Coastie posted a status update on Facebook that alluded to the fact that he was drunk. While he was not in any danger of being asked to stand watch in an emergency, I quietly wondered if the post had left a bad taste in anyone’s mouth besides mine. To be blunt, the post did not reflect the image I wanted the Coast Guard to publicly portray nor was it smart for this individual to be sharing this information via a searchable social media tool. What would a future employer think about this person?
Wikipedia says, “Personal branding is the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands. Personal branding often involves the application of one’s name to various products. For example, celebrity real-estate mogul Donald Trump uses his last name extensively on his buildings and on the products he endorses.”
Essentially, a poor portrayal of one’s self may have a negative impact on you and your employer. To quote personal branding expert Dan Schwabel, he says, “Personal branding is not about you, it’s about everyone else.”
With this in mind, what does your online brand say about you? Knowing that it could reflect on the Coast Guard and its brand, would you do anything different in how you represent yourself via social media tools?
In a Web 2.0 era, where our status updates, videos, pictures and online comments are all searchable and on a stage for the world to see, it’s critical that all of us put our best face forward. Why? One of our shipmate’s actions could have an impact on the Coast Guard’s overall brand. While we’re not perfect and should not expect our online presence to be sterile, we are all in this together.
I’m interested in hearing your feedback and look forward to your good questions.
I absolutely see how being in public service (especially military-related) would inspire and require a higher standard of behavior, public & private, in real life & online. Nice that for now, the system is more self-policing/self-correcting than punitive.
Hmmmm. I can really see both sides of this… As social media becomes more pervasive, people are going to be tweeting/FBing more personal details. Getting pleasantly drunk and silly on an evening off (and saying so) seems like not a big deal. Getting drunk and doing dangerous, disrespectful, or stupid things, or getting drunk repeatedly, sounds bad. If you wouldn’t talk to an employer or customer about something casually, it probably doesn’t belong online associated with your full name.
Some people resolve this by creating an alternate persona for personal details, so that their work brand will stay squeaky clean, but they can be a bit looser with personal details with people who are close friends.
But, I think as more and more people are posting personal information, any one incident is going to seem less dramatic. With the amount of information being dumped online through social media channels, this may be changing.
Then again, I live in San Francisco, where many residents delight in pushing the boundaries. I can at Failcon 2010 two days ago, and Cindy Cohn, legal director from the EFF was talking about a legal case she’s working on right now where someone was fired from their day job for being a performer in a burlesque show, which their employer noticed online. In the protective bubble of SF sex-positive culture, that seems like no big deal; I forget that the rest of the world is going to take a while to catch up…
As Coast guardsmen, we’re rightly held to a higher standard. Anyone working to earn public trust should be extra careful as to how they want to be portrayed. I’m not suggested that witch hunts are acceptable, however, I often hear the phrase “what happens in Vegas, stays on Google.” Essentially, use common sense as to what you post online – especially if you are in a public-serving capacity.
Would you agree?