reputation

Why do people share so much personal information online?

The other day I asked a colleague, in the shared working space I use, what she would like to know more about and it started a conversation about what people share online and why they feel compelled to, or comfortable, sharing it. This is a topic that I really enjoy talking about, so today I’m going to delve in a bit further as to why I think some people over share and why I think it’s important for you to think through what you’re sharing online.

Private discussions have found their way online

In years past, people sat around in their living rooms and backyards having heated discussions about all sorts of things, often voicing controversial opinions. While these conversations still happen, they‘ve also moved online. The problem with this is that instead of having a small private conversation amongst a few friends that conversation is now accessible to the public, potentially forever.

Do you believe that every opinion that you have should be available to the general public? I know I certainly don’t.

I believe people are sharing their opinions thinking that they’re only talking the way they always have and not taking into account or understanding Google’s reach. Google doesn’t forget things, including the comment you left on a blog post way back in 2007 (I found a few of those when working on this post ;) ). 

This means that making a conscious decision about what information and which opinions you share online is very important. While you may very well be willing to share your opinions online, the key is to make a conscious decision and realize that a permanent record of that opinion can be accessed by anyone.

Why does it matter if we say controversial things online?

The things that we say impact the way people view us. This is key. How do you want to be perceived by the people who can find you online? 

You need to think about who might end up looking you up. Potential employers, potential employees, and potential clients are all likely candidates to do a bit of searching online to get to know you better.  What will they find?

When you Google yourself, would you be happy for a future employer/partner/employee to find everything that you find?

How well are we adapting?

While some people are very careful about what they post online, many don’t take into consideration that what they say online can impact how people view them. For example, many people would never say anything they believe to sound racist, but do they realize that complaining about work online could impact future employment? Do they realize that constant negative commentary could affect someone’s opinion of their overall attitude and how they would fit on a team? Taking that a step further, do they realize what they say about other people (including their children) can have a lasting impact on other people’s reputations?

Here’s an interesting infographic on some of the things people share online: http://www.bitrebels.com/social/how-we-might-share-too-much-online-infographic/

More and more, we want and need to be online personally and professionally. Understanding how to do that responsibly is a step many people haven’t yet taken. Take some time to figure out what you want people to think about you (this is your personal brand) and whether or not your actions convey the same message.

What do you think about what people share online? Do people share more than they should?

 

Are you giving your audience value?

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There are several phrases I use over and over again because they are key to online success. Today I’m focusing on one of them  - give value to your audience.

We’ve talked about the importance of understanding your brand and how important it is to be thoughtful in what you post, but there is something else you need to keep in mind. If you go too far off course from your brand, values, and promises, you will bore or irritate your audience into un-following you.

How do you figure out if you’re sharing content people who follow you value? Let’s break it down:

Who is your audience?

Can you describe your audience? Every audience is different and you need to take the time to really figure out who your audience is. Understanding who makes up that audience, what they like, what they don’t like and what they would like from you is critical in creating the kind of content that can help you build relationships that turn that audience into customers.

Once you’ve figured that out, creating and sharing content that can connect with your audience becomes a lot easier.

What do they value?

Not every audience is looking for the same kind of information. Make sure that everything you share has some kind of connection back to who you are and who your audience is. 

Think about why they followed you in the first place. What would people expect the content to look like coming from your brand? Make sure your content doesn’t go too far off from that.

Things that people value tend to fall into three main categories:

  1. You’re teaching them something,
  2. You’re entertaining them, or
  3. You’re giving them tools and knowledge. 

What don’t they want?

Nobody likes to follow a brand that is only trying to sell to them. That’s valuable to the brand, not to the audience. Make sure that you’re giving your audience something they want or can use so that when you do post some sales posts - and you definitely should - they think so highly of you they’re far more inclined to make the buy.

People don’t want information that has nothing to do with them or that they can’t relate to.

Let’s look at some examples

  • If your main audience is young women about to get married, interesting articles about retirement don’t make sense. 
  • If your main audience is men who want to home-brew their own beer, then funny cartoons about being a new mom don’t make sense.
  • If you promised tips and tricks to help them do something better, just sharing things you’re selling isn’t going to convince them of anything other than that you’re pushy and too sales-y.
  • If you sell hammers, make sure that you talk about the hammers, and the things you can do with the hammers. 

Spend some time thinking about your content and what you’re giving to your audience that they would value. Then share some examples (good and bad) of what you’ve seen or done that relates to giving an audience value.