I recently spotted an ad for TweetDelete – a service for cleaning up your Twitter history – and wondered how many people might make use of a service like it. It wasn’t of interest to me, as I came to Twitter relatively recently and with a clear idea of how I intended to participate. I knew I wanted to use it for professional reasons – to network, to market, to learn – with entertainment or amusement being not only entirely secondary, but a very low priority. As a result, I’ve been careful how I use it. I don’t post anything with the mistaken idea that it’s private, and I make considerable efforts to ensure I don’t go viral for the wrong reasons (not that I’ve ever gone viral for any reason) 😀
Of course, it helped that I was already reasonably familiar with the online world and various Social Media platforms ahead of joining Twitter. In my early days of social media use, I was relatively relaxed about what I put online – as long as it wasn’t anything I wouldn’t have said to someone face-to-face, I didn’t see a problem. I’m not unhappy with that earlier decision, but used what I learned from those years in formulating my policy for use of Twitter.
I’m amused to recall that when my mother first started to hear about Facebook, she was convinced it was the work of the devil. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration… but only slight. She learned about it at the time when the mainstream media was full of ‘the evils of social media’. I tried explaining that it was simply a tool, and that many of those evils resulted from people using it in ignorance or without thought. Despite all that is not right with social media, I still believe that applies for most (not high profile) users.
So… as the tools and services exist, should we curate our online presence?
A common refrain now is that employers check Facebook (and other platforms) as part of their recruitment process. I imagine a serious mis-match between LinkedIn profile and Facebook page has the potential to cause problems, but… I guess the question is what are you posting? Are you expressing extreme views? Is there photographic evidence of you acting unlawfully? Or is it simply a slightly unwise proliferation of drunken episodes when your employer is teetotal, or videos of you swearing colourfully when your employer is straight-laced or religious, for example?
Of course, one option is to opt for the highest of privacy settings, allowing no-one who isn’t already your friend access to your details. But maybe you don’t believe it’s OK to have your private life judged by your employer? So long as you meet their personal and professional standards while at work, is it any of their business?
But, I don’t believe there is one right answer, for there are too many variables. How bad is the content? Regardless of how bad, are you ashamed of it? Do you wish to remove evidence of a mis-spent youth? If the answer to these questions is ‘very’ and ‘yes’, then social media curation could be for you, and there’s clearly a growing market for it, as I saw a business pitch on Dragons Den for this very service.
As someone who has carried out some curation on their social media (while I was training to be a counsellor, believing in the importance of presenting a neutral public face, allowing any potential clients not to feel in danger of being judged, and so able to express themselves freely should they choose to work with me) my belief is that there’s a balance to be found. Those items I deleted were reminders of happy times, and they’re not been easy for me to retrieve.
One last thought – any form of social media curation leads me naturally to the subject of branding. Among multitudes of training courses landing in my in box are “author branding” offerings. But how much should be brand and how much should be authentic? Like many of us, I follow a number of successful authors on Twitter. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear that I don’t follow them because of their branding, I follow them for their authentic content.
Do you have any experience of curation or branding? Or do you vote for authenticity?
© Debra Carey, 2021