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December 7, 2010 / jasonpinto

A Story, As Told by Hundreds

We all have a story. The question is this: who is telling that story to others?

No matter who we are, we certainly may yearn to have control. However, in a world of social media and smartphones, we must accept the fact that we do not control everything. Yes, when people view our online profiles, they no longer see only the content that we’ve chosen to share. Most likely, they are also viewing content that was contributed by others — friends, fellow workers, family, and others.

This may be in the form of pictures and videos that they tag us in, conversations that they hold with us online, and more.

Yes, multiple people are contributing to our story. It is the story that is told when people view our Facebook page, Twitter feed, or when they Google us. But even if we cannot control everything, we can still ensure that we are having a say!

Here are a couple of ways that we can contribute to the telling of our tale:

Keep up with the breakneck pace

One reason that social media is so exciting to me is that things change and move forward very quickly. The companies behind tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook seem to make fairly major changes to their application and data points on a frequent basis. They may add fields…. or change how old fields are used. They may change the interface for managing our profiles, as well as the interface for people that view our content. We must find ways to keep up with these changes, and then use them to our advantage.

For example, Jim Raffel recently posted an important tip for people that use LinkedIn. I greatly encourage that you take a moment and read his post on how the Professional Headline field should be used to hold & display more than just your Title.

This week, Facebook started rolling out changes to their Profile pages. Sure, 60 Minutes might have overreacted a bit to the importance of the actual changes, but from what I’ve seen so far, the enhancements offer some positive benefits to users.

  • I am a fan of how they display your key details near the top of the profile (where you are from, where you work, etc.), and I also like the strip of recent photos that you’ve been tagged in.
  • Another new feature that appears to hold out some potential is where you can create Projects that you’ve worked on at your job. Along with sharing basic details about the project, you can also tag fellow employees that worked on the project with you.
Facebook - Work/Projects

Viewing Work & Projects on the Facebook Profile


Your story may be told to others by the pictures that you are tagged in, by the projects you’ve worked on, and by the books, artists, and movies that you like. Are you sharing that with the world?

Be where we need to be, and freely share content

One dramatic way that social media has changed us is that it’s blurred the line between your professional life and your personal life. Some people battle with how to handle this. Should they ever post anything about work on their Facebook wall? Or, should they ban their friends from posting pictures or other content unless they approve it?

Certainly, we all have appeared in pictures or contributed to posts that we may regret. We may be wise to recognize that if customers and prospects view our pages (or our parents!), we may not want to have a wall full of pictures that all include us spending a bit too much time with a 30-pack of Bud Light. We also may need to realize that if we post too many messages that read like something that’s been sanitized by our company’s PR firm, it may have a negative impact on how people view us.

I do think that we should allow the line to be blurred between our professional and personal lives.

If we want people to have a balanced impression of us, then we must be willing to freely share content. If we do not want our wall full of pictures that are from Saturday nights, then we must be willing to document work-related activities during the week (projects we work on, conferences that we attend, articles that we find interesting), and then upload accordingly.  On the other hand, if we want our customers to draw closer to use personally, we must share our hobbies, interests, and passions.

The Never-Ending Story

The worlds of marketing and communications will continue to move forward. There will be new channels appearing before we’ve had a chance to master the “old” ones. They will all contribute to telling the world a bit about us.

The question is — are we having our share in telling that story?


Leave a Comment
  1. jimraffel / Dec 7 2010 9:13 am

    First, thank you for including a link to my post about the Linkedin Professional Headline.

    I love this post it’s got me thinking in about three different directions. I’ve never really been too concerned about the personal and professional blur. I’m one person not two people. What I do doing the week impacts what I do on weekends and the reverse is also true. To deny or sanitize one in favor of the other is pure silliness from my perspective.

    What one can do is treat their social media life like an onion. For me Twitter is the outside of the onion. Anyone who wants to connect with me there can. Linkedin, I accept most but no all connection requests. I take the time to figure out who I am connecting with and make a determination if their will be of value. Facebook – I’d better know you or we won’t be connecting. Mostly this means we’ve met face to face but I make exceptions. The upside is I can post a bit more liberally about my political views and such. By the time we’ve connected on Facebook we like and respect each other including our differences.

    Again, great post – keep them coming.

    • jasonpinto / Dec 7 2010 9:20 am

      Jim, thank you very much for this comment.
      I am inspired on a daily basis by your blog, so linking to one of my favorite posts was the least I could do.

      Thank you!

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