Twittering away your digital legacy?

Here’s a story from about a “Twevent” that happened to a senior level public relations employee. The case involved FedEx (the client) and the following Tweet:

True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say “I would die if I had to live here! citation summarized the ensuing events:

Someone inside FedEx was following…and that person shared the post among the top executives at the FedEx front office, and the company’s corporate communications staff. At that point, a person in the FedEx corporate communications staff apparently took umbrage to the post…and responded [to him].

The public relations executive posted the following Tweet as events ensued over the next couple of days:

This is hard to fit in 140 characters or less so please read here. All about my recent Twitter post citation has a take-away; his global thoughts on the matter.

The Scream by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch

I found this FedEx story via this Sun Microsystems blog post which discusses issues surrounding one’s digital legacy. The key take-away, in my opinion, is to understand that crowdsourcing memes can possibly lead to unintended consequences and misinterpreted meanings.

Thus, when asked by real estate professionals about how they should approach social media generally, and Twitter specifically, I talk about defining digital personas and sticking to that persona in every post, Facebook or LinkedIn update, Tweet, etc.

Here are my thoughts regarding managing one’s digital legacy:

  1. Define the persona you want to convey to your known audience as well as your unknown audience; this will become your digital legacy over time
  2. Understand that Facebook differs from LinkedIn which differs from Twitter, etc, and that each social media space has a different environment–ecosystem or culture if you will–that you must first understand and then integrate with after you understand it (I say lurk heartedly to see how other people use a specific medium, read the FAQs and support sections, etc, then step into the playground when you have a general sense of the rules)
  3. You can have varied persona’s for each environment, but each such persona should roll-up to support the overall “personal brand” you’re trying to build (think of the different personalities you adopt during client presentations, while at the office, at cocktail parties, etc)
  4. Think 24 months out from now and ask yourself “What do I want people to see when they search me on Google”? Think about what “output” or “outcome” you want in this circumstance, and then work backwards at ensuring that your “inputs” (your blog posts, your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, and the majority of your Tweets) meet your expected outcome

Perhaps I am over thinking this. However, when I read posts like the above, I cannot help but think that a managed approach like the simple process I’ve outlined is a viable approach for real estate professionals (especially agents new to the space) whose livelihood, value, reputation, and expertise will be run through a Google (or some new equivalent) sieve for the foreseeable future.

3 thoughts on “Twittering away your digital legacy?”

  1. Eric –

    The trouble is, as I’ve commented on Dave Henderson’s post, that you can’t have it both ways. You can’t be both “open” and “managed” at the same time. That’s the essential truth of the Cluetrain. Authenticity isn’t a halfway house between transparency on the one hand and propaganda on the other.

    The minute you “create a persona”, you are no longer authentic. And if you are no longer authentic, then engagement is itself inauthentic.

    I really believe that this tension is the #1 challenge for most companies/corporations to figure out how to negotiate/navigate in the Brave New World.


  2. Rob, thanks for the comment and, yes, that is the challenge. Perhaps I was remiss (and likely should have chosen a different term) in not defining what I meant by “persona”, and that is it’s indelibly tied to one’s personality (not, as your comment implies, as to a “character in a play” or “facade”). Thus, following this clarification, I’d challenge the assumption that “persona” equates to “propaganda” and, hence, is inauthentic. A disciplined process of engaging social media, especially just starting out, ultimately does more to enhance one’s authenticity than not. Yes, spontaneity is crucial to being authentic, but so is a mindful thought towards one’s digital legacy. For example, if one’s ultimate goal is to say that at the end of a six month period I want to have a reputation in (pick your social media) as a person who drives value to my clients, does not waste their time with inanities, and helps drive their business, is it “inauthentic” to centralize one’s posts around market stat updates, investment news, local real estate insight, and other such items? I’d say not. Then as relationships build over time based on this foundation of “value-laden” posts, the natural ebb and flow of conversations and repartee naturally evolves. Authenticity has been present all the time in this case even though one has taken a managed approach at the outset.

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