I think back to the days when I was first considered ‘online’. There was a chat program my best friend’s older brother had called Telnet. I thought the concept was cool; you can keep in touch with people you know over a computer!
Fast forward a couple years and I’m sitting in a Business English class in Highschool pretending to do my work while logged into a chat client conversing to people internationally. They had no idea where I was or what I was doing. (Or what I was supposed to be doing rather) The Telnet concept had paved away to completely anonymous profiles, fake names and avatars. We were now having conversations with complete strangers never having to give up our personal identities.
Actually, for safety purposes we were, and still are, told never to give our private information to anybody ‘online’. We were taught to never trust anybody.
In June of 1993 The New Yorker published this cartoon:
As of 2011, it was the most reprinted cartoon that The New Yorker had, and it speaks volumes to the time. “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” The Internet however, has changed (for the most part).
While anonymity is all still very true in terms of privacy and safety, in business the Internet has made us more transparent then ever.
Over the next few years as Social Media platforms become a more dominant way in which we interact online brands must remember to practice a certain “social etiquette”:
1. Know what information is already out there. It doesn’t hurt to Google or Bing yourself or your company to see what information pops up. I promise you, your clients or prospective employers already have.
2. Protect your privacy. If you have a Facebook page or Google business profile that is separate from your company page, that’s fine, but you will still want to verify that your settings are set to remain private.
3. Be mindful of what you post. This goes right to the point of my article, the Internet is no longer anonymous. You will be held accountable for the things you put in writing. Your employees, employers, potential customers and investors could get a hold of the things you post online. Remember Social Networks are tools to connect, and connect they do. Just be mindful of what your connecting with whom.