Yes, It’s All Public Online

People often ask me whether or not they should start a public profile in social media in addition to their private one. In most cases, it’s usually in hopes of separating public/professional engagement from private ones (i.e., conversations with friends & family) . For many, the mass nature and scope of social engagement online has become quite overwhelming.

I can definitely understand this dilemma.

Although there are tools within many of these social platforms that help you group and manage your contacts, it’s important to keep in mind that anything you post online should be viewed as “public”. While it’s true that there are federal regulations (many of which are loose) that are suppose to guard your preferences for privacy, we’ve all learned that this is not always the case. In addition, you’re only accidental click away from sharing something you shouldn’t have.

Recommendation #1: Whether or not you engage publicly or “privately”, always treat content you post as something that could be seen publicly. All things posted can be tracked and discovered (even if you delete them). Yes, think “public” no matter how “private” you want to be.

Also, have you ever experience having a friend in confidence that shared information that you explicitly told them “not to share”? I thought so. Private conversations online can quickly become public through other people.

Recommendation #2: Think twice before posting anything that could be suspect. Think of all the various people who can possibly come across your post. A Future Boss? Friend? Business Connection? Family?

Recommendation #3: Common sense still works no matter how uncommon it may seem online.  Don’t be foolish in your approach to life online. As fun as something may be at the moment, think of the potential consequences of sharing.

The Flip Side

The flip side of all of this is that you can do some great things “publicly” as well. Your life online can become a great reflection of who you are and what you’re about. You will inspire, encourage, and help more people than you’ll ever know if you commit to engaging well. In this digital age, life online will often pave pathways into the future you want to live. Enjoy it. Be smart. Think long-term.

Should you create a public and a private profile? I have no preference. There are definitely benefits to both. My point is simply that all things can become public.

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Charles is the CEO & Chief Idea-Maker at Ideation, a brand innovation company that specializes in helping businesses & organizations build remarkable brands via innovative business design, organizational change architecture, brand integration, design, web, and marketing services. He is also the author of Good Idea. Now What?: How to Move Ideas to Execution, a practical book designed to help people move ideas to implementation. Charles is regularly invited to speak to leading companies and organizations on topics such as creativity, innovation, idea-making, and branding. Executive leaders from brands including Wells Fargo, Toyota, The White House, Catalyst, William Morris Endeavor, mun2, Council of Urban Professionals, Chick-fil-A, and many others have benefited from having Charles present at their key events.