I had an interesting conversation about community management with a co-worker yesterday. We talked about how it can turn into an extremely public role – depending on the brand and the duties. Our discussion turned to public perception and our responsibilities outside of the brand, and I thought it would be interesting to explore that here.
Having a heavy social media presence means you’re extremely exposed. The problem with this is that there are times you have to be really careful of what you put out there. My presence on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and even Pinterest isn’t limited by what I’m doing for the brand. I also have a heavy personal presence. Each account is handled differently, but there is a constant in that people read what I put out there and sometimes what I put out there is a direct reflection of my brand, even if I’m on my personal account.
The company I work for, BlogWorld & New Media Expo, works with a lot of different brands and P.R. companies. We have to rely on these businesses for sponsorship and couldn’t put on our conference without them. So not only do I like to show them support via the brand account, but I also remember this with my personal accounts. For example, let’s say I had a bad experience with Brand X. The last thing I’d want to do is bash them on the social networks. Even though it’s my personal account and my personal experience, they may remember this if they ever decided to consider sponsoring or exhibiting at my conference.
Sometimes I feel like I have to keep a lot of things in check because I don’t want them to come back and bit me in the butt later.
- I love my job but there’s always the chance something can happen. If I’m someone who isn’t positive, or is vulgar or abusive on my social networking accounts, a future client or employer may decided I don’t have the right temperament for the job.
- I enjoy a good gossip session with my friends but I also know if I share someone’s personal information, even during a “promise not to tell” type gossip session, word will get out and I’ll be seen as someone who isn’t trustworthy with certain information.
- I enjoy socializing and going to conferences but if I drink and it gets out of hand, I’ll be seen as someone who doesn’t conduct myself in a professional manner when I’m representing my brand at an offline event.
- I enjoy sharing stories about my family, especially my wonderful, precocious son. However, I know that there’s a fine line between sharing and oversharing and if I’m seen as someone who releases too much information about my self, what kind of company secrets will I give out about the brand?
- I enjoy taking photographs with my friends and family and posting them to Facebook, but I share with friends, relatives and business acquaintances alike on that network. So in addition to filtering, I’m careful about what I put out there. Not that I do the drunken, barely dressed thing, but if I did, my judgement and common sense would be put to question.
You might be thinking most of the items bulleted above are personal and have nothing to do with my job, my brand’s sponsors or potential clients or employers. However, that’s not the case. If you’re going to accept a public role, you absolutely have to be careful of what you put out there. In this world, reputation and trust are everything. If I can’t be trusted to make good personal decisions, I certainly can’t be trusted to make good business decisions.
Do community managers have a responsibility to the brand outside of your regular nine to five duties? How do you keep it professional when you’re being personal?