Social Media and Transparency

The increasing online presence of millions of people utilizing social media is resulting in a transparency not everyone is comfortable with. The transition from content consumers to content producers and the vast amount of information being shared is eliminating the choice of maintaining a private, personal profile separately from a public, professional profile. Of course there are still those who will disagree with me but take note because this is a trend that will eventually expose even you. If you have been tagged in a photo, you understand that you didn’t post the photo of yourself online, someone else did. Without control over the content that is being produced it is actually in your best interest to generate and manage your own online information. Of course you can make every effort to resist a public profile but the natural presumption will be that you have something to hide resulting in a lack of trust and credibility.

Internet use and social media continue to evolve as we leave behind an industrial era that presented the need to establish a separate work life from our personal life. Recognition and reparation have resulted in a gradual return to a healthy work/life balance and at the same time, social media has provided the platform for connecting people and business. This online merge of personal and professional profiles will be a struggle for many but the resulting transparency will present the ability to determine credibility. David Houle, Futurist, predicted and refers to this era as The Transformation Decade.

In the past, many companies successfully marketed themselves without a personal presence leaving many unsuspecting customers at a loss to follow up with unsatisfactory products or services. Social media has provided a venue for sharing information and the potential to generate global awareness making it more difficult to maintain a low profile. Soon, there will be nowhere to hide from the most powerful influence in our society, word of mouth. Separate entities or brands are becoming less acceptable and in order to validate your integrity and credibility or that of your business, a commitment to visibly stand behind your personal reputation, product or service will be necessary if you wish to succeed.

Finally, when Facebook launched in 2004 many thought of it as solely a youth based, social network. As with many things, especially social media, changes and growth have been astounding but still many perceptions today are based on outdated and unfounded facts. If the significance of the changes and growth have not been recognized, the following article and stats will be of interest. After meeting Mark Zuckerberg at a Facebook event in May, 2007, Paul Allen, Internet Entrepreneur wrote, Prediction: Facebook will be the largest social network in the world. He sums it up with, “Mark’s philosophy of openness is an open invitation to co-create something remarkable with him and his 24 million users.” It has been three years and Facebook now has 500 million users! To put this number in perspective, the United States has a population of 309 million and Canada’s population is 34 million. Only two counties in the world have a larger population than Facebook, India and China. Still think it’s just for kids and games?

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