Friday, November 9, 2007

Social media: Caught with your pants down

Everyone has seen images of Gen Y beauty pageant contestants bemoaning pictures from their social media sites making into public view and media - and having direct impact on their potential for success. They cry pictures meant to be private. Posted is private? Recently Gen Y association executive had very personal thoughts and photos on social media site routed around member to member. New way to get to know the CEO.

Facet of social media is recognition association executives often can't distance from being public rep for organization. What's hilarious and normal to peers can be seen as lewd or inappropriate to legislators, regulatory staff, coalition partners, vendors, attorneys, the public ... and yes, even association officers, members and other staff. Credibility and effectiveness in association management requires interaction and influence with all generations ... not just own. Impacts potential for success.

Warned my teens that every college and job they apply to entire lives can potentially get anything posted on their sites. Friends with access to pictures and thoughts save or distribute sometimes. Photos are one right click away from leaving social media site for redistribution. As the saying goes,
Google is forever ... and it's not just Google.

Are association employers checking social media sites of applicants? Do we ask to list
MySpace, Facebook and blogs as part of application process? If applicants consent to criminal, credit, and reference checks ... why not find out what others will find on social media? If response is meant to be private, remind posted for public view. If employers don't check, association members, opponents or local newspaper/media likely will.

Social media important component of association management now and in future. Concept of catching someone "with pants down" likely didn't anticipate scenario where person - or a generation - posted that picture on purpose. Maybe "inappropriate" will be the norm -- because potential for questionable thoughts and pictures may apply to entire future applicant pools.

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