The War Within: Managing Your Personal Brand on Social Media for Recruiting
There is a war that we in human resources and recruiting are fighting. It’s not the war for talent. It’s an internal war of being yourself on Facebook and social media versus being the corporate brand ambassador.
The word “brand” is everywhere. Branding is a marketing term; it’s basically the consistent packaging of a company’s image, ethics and culture through its products, services, communications and marketing. Companies like Kraft, Mercedes Benz, Apple, Rolex and Wal-Mart are well established brands. Wait! Wal-Mart? Oh yeah, love them or hate them they have a brand, and it’s worth billions of dollars.
You and I also have brands: they are called “personal brands.” Personal brands are all about your public character. Entrepreneurs and celebrities have to be really careful with their personal branding because they are usually strongly linked to the business (think Michael Jordan, Oprah, and Jennifer Lopez). While you and I aren’t celebrities, we still represent our clients and companies. This is where it can get confusing.
On the one hand, by recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new employees, you create the first impression of the company for prospective employees. Basically, when you contact that person for a job, YOU are the company. What you say, type, and communicate all represent the company. That might sound unfair, but it is what it is. This is one reason why there is so much emphasis placed on the candidate experience right now.
You’ve probably gotten “friend” requests from people who have searched your company online or read your comments on the company’s Facebook Page. Well, what should you do? In this case, exercise judgment: if they’re not your friends in real life, you may not want to include them in all of your Facebook activity. It’s possible to maintain your privacy while developing an online presence—just make sure you know which posts you’re sharing publicly and which you’re reserving for your true friends and family. Believe it or not folks, when it comes to your Facebook activity, you are being judged! Not by the Zuckerbergs, but by anyone who finds and reads your posts.
Facebook, mobile devices, and social media are great tools. They have forever changed how we live, work, and stay connected with each other. It’s really removed many boundaries, but that can complicate things when it comes to determining your personal persona and the corporate image.
For example, you are an employee but not the owner, and you have your own set of friends who know you just as plain ole “Alex from the block.” They know the real you. They have seen you at your best and your worst, and you want to keep it real and stay connected to them—and that’s how you want to use Facebook. It is, however, important to be aware that it is up to you to set your privacy settings. With Graph Search, it’s easier than ever for people to find you. (A blessing when you’re sourcing, but not necessarily when you haven’t untagged those embarrassing photos…)
If you are one of those people that can’t stand the fact that everything and everyone is so connected and want to keep it separate, I have bad news for you: It’s only going to get worse (or better if you are an optimist like me.)
So here are some tips to managing your social media presence.
You can try to avoid all social media platforms, but you will run the risk of looking like someone who has something to hide—or worse a relic: too old school to adapt. Either way you could cost yourself and your company valuable business opportunities.
You can try to have a personal Facebook account and a professional Facebook account, but when you consider all of the social platforms and automated apps available, you will be overwhelmed with passwords and usernames. It’s way too much to manage successfully. Take it from me, as someone who was very skeptical of social media 4 years ago. Plus, there is just something unauthentic about trying to manage separate social lives.
This is your best option. Just clean up your act like Prince. Remember Prince in the 1980’s? He’s the reason why we even have those “Parental Advisory” labels on music. But now Prince doesn’t use adult or suggestive language anymore. He’s clean now. You can learn a lot from him. Not saying that you’re dirty, but operate under the assumption that anyone can see anything you post at any time. Use Facebook responsibly, and keep it classy.
It’s important to know that by having a professional social media brand, you can attract candidates, clients, and business partners—and even increase your earning potential. Oh yes, there are some truly innovative companies who look for employees based on social influence (also known as reputation capital.) The bottom line is you ARE the brand champion and ambassador for your company, whether you like it or not. You will have to carry the heavy burden of representing your company’s brand by connecting, communicating, and not over-sharing with the entire public.
Oh and by the way, when you receive friend requests from unknown individuals, it’s okay to direct them back to the company’s Facebook Page.
This post was written by Chris Fields