I received an email from my friend Chris Griffith the other day talking about on-line reputations, right after I had read an interesting post by Australian Social Media consultant Laurel Papworth with the chart you see above. I really liked the chart, and was planning on using it in a Social Media presentation I’m giving next week , and I thought the chart did a great job of explaining how reputation attracts consumers by building trust. The topic wasn’t (in my small mind) specifically real estate related so I wrote a quick post about it on another one of my blogs.
To me it was a common sense type of thing so I really didn’t think much about it until this morning when I was on Facebook. As I was poking around I noticed one of my friends had joined Social Media Today. The name of the group was vague enough to make me look, so I went to see what was what – and lo and behold I found a study that actually quantifies the points made in my post and Laurel’s chart.
I love Being Right
When I read the article, I got really happy. I believe that there is a huge difference between what you thinknd what you know and as a result, I try to be careful to differentiate between opinion and fact. But when I saw Laurel’s chart, combined it with my own feelings about reputation and my experience as an employer, I knew that being careful about how you manage your on-line reputation was an important thing for everyone to think about.
Through the magic of three stages of separation, I found a Facebook link to Social Media Today where there was a post about an article in Computerworld, quoting a survey performed by CareerBuilder.com. (Its only a couple of clicks to go a long way in the virtual world).
The Computerworld article provided empirical evidence based on a study of 31,000 employers conducted by Careerbuilder.com. In the study they found that reviewing Social Networks as part of the hiring process had doubled amoung this group in the past 2 years.
According to the article, these managers are using the social networks to find the following information;
- Information about alcohol or drug use (41% of managers said this was a top concern)
- Inappropriate photos or information posted on a candidate’s page (40%)
- Poor communication skills (29%)
- Bad-mouthing of former employers or fellow employees (28%)
- Inaccurate qualifications (27%)
- Unprofessional screen names (22%)
- Notes showing links to criminal behavior (21%)
- Confidential information about past employers revealed by the prospective hire (19%)
Our potential employers, employees, associates, customers, and clients all have the same ability to check our backgrounds, and may be even more likely to do so than this group of management folks. Therefore it is imperative that we be aware of the consequences of posting things that may seem innocuous to us , but might be negative (or even offensive) to someone else,
MySpace and Facebook created a special club for the early adopters, but that’s all changed now. The good part about the phenomenon of Social Networking is that it has grown immensely, but with that growth grew a diverse audience, and the potential for unintended consequences if we don’t think before we type.
A Word to the Wise
So from the people who brought us the immortal phrases “Don’t Drink and Dial” and “Don’t drink and Tweet” we have the new cliche “Think Before You Post” . Chose the information you want to share in the Social Networks carefully, remembering that you never know who is going to be reading it, and for what purpose.
Those of us who read and write in the Blogiverse have learned (sometimes painfully) that stuff you post on the Internet seems to be forever and that caution is indicated. But when we are young, invincible and immortal, we sometimes forget that the importance of thinking ahead. No 20 year old getting a tattoo ever stopped to think about what that Ink would look like when they reach 55 or 60 (to the chagrin of more then a few folks) or perhaps they didn’t care. But putting something in your profile that might impact your ability to gain a client or a job, or recruit an associate is a bump in the road most of us would want to avoid.
September 16, 2008 at 8:48 pm
Great post, Bill! I remember reading and article sometime back (either in WSJ or NYT) about this very thing. Nothing that’s posted on the web will ever go away. There are a lot of young people inadvertently doing themselves a great deal of future harm with what they are frivolously posting on the web today.
And as you pointed out, it’s not just the young. Naive and impulsive writing on the web can certainly come back and haunt you. Potential clients are *definitely* Googling you, searching for you on Facebook, etc.
My grandmother used to tell me that I should always behave as if someone was always watching me, because they were. She meant Jesus(!), but in this case, it’s Big Brother aka The WWW (and maybe Google).
So, let’s be careful out there. 🙂
September 16, 2008 at 9:06 pm
Immediately sending the link to my daughter in college although, through my continual “creepering” of her Facebook, I know that she is already getting it. A few pictures have mysteriously disappeared since Rush Week ended. 🙂
September 16, 2008 at 9:07 pm
On second thought, I can no longer send her this link. I don’t think she fully comprehends my creeper nature.
September 16, 2008 at 11:48 pm
I go back to my old advice about email, because it applies to posts as well:
Never publish or send anything you wouldn’t want to read out loud to your mother, your boss, or a judge.
This will keep you from embarassment, even if it won’t entirely insulate you from unemployment or subpoena.
September 16, 2008 at 11:49 pm
I suppose since we’re all “independent contractors”, insert “broker” for “boss”.
September 17, 2008 at 5:41 am
Bill, this is good data. I don’t accept friendship requests on FB from my children’s friends. I try to keep it professional. I know at our high school, the guidance counselors have profiles to check on the kids and as a mom, I’m always telling then to watch what you put on there. Unfortunately they sometimes listen and sometimes don’t.
41% for drugs and alcohol and 40% for photos’ is a lot of looking.
September 17, 2008 at 5:54 am
Just a very good post… I agree with the concept whole heartedly. The tricky part is getting the younger personto understand that “They will not always see things the way they do know…”
September 17, 2008 at 7:22 am
What you say in Social Media doesn’t stay there?
What about what happens at the RE Conferences that others may capture on film? (“X” LOL)
Keeping a balance between transparency and professionalism can be a little tricky. I haven’t mastered it, that’s for sure, but a work in progress. I do want to be *me*; that I know for sure.
Steve – I agree – and if you figure it out, please let me know. It seems like they are just there for the moment.
September 17, 2008 at 7:23 am
I real estate one of our biggest assets is our reputation. I know some agents whose reputation will keep other agents from even showing their listings. Bill, I liked the quote from Warren Buffet in your other article; “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”. This is another reason for us to all treat each other with the respect and professionalism we deserve.
September 17, 2008 at 11:02 am
@Kim I have no idea what you’re talking about 😉
Great article Bill. Off to check my own Facebook page for ‘discrepancies’…and contemplate how my tattoos will look in 20 years 🙂
September 18, 2008 at 8:10 am
Does that mean I can’t say “CRAP” on twitter anymore? or talk about “MOJITOS”?
September 18, 2008 at 1:55 pm
How true Bill. The written word lives forever…or so it seems!