How to Protect Your Privacy in a Digital World: 3 Tips for Social Managers

Lake Effects Blog

Monday, May 05, 2014

The prevalence of social networks has had a cultural impact on the way we communicate and do business.  Since the introduction of social media, thought leaders have leveraged the communication tool to demonstrate expertise and authority in certain sectors and business niches.  This has also meant in the past that leaders risked sharing more personal information with their business audience.  We’ll discuss why it’s important to build your online authority and tips on keeping your professional and personal lives separate and safe online.

Building Your Online Reputation: Why It Matters for Business

It is important for business leaders to engage on social media, regardless of the industry you serve.  Executives who are active on important networks such as LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook or actively blogging are building their digital reputation as a thought leader online.  This is a valuable tool to demonstrate expertise, source new networking opportunities, stay connected and share with colleagues and to stay informed about changes to your specific industry.

Every time you engage in meaningful sharing and comments, you are establishing yourself as an informed executive.  With a few tips you can safely cultivate that meaningful online reputation while protecting yourself (and your family) from the sharing of confidential and personal information.

Protecting Your Personal Information and Safety

There are a number of steps and practices that managers can follow in order to protect their safety and privacy while sharing online.   The presence that you maintain in the digital domain does not need to overlap with your personal life, and the two can (and should) be kept separate for a number of practical reasons.

Here are three tips to help you share safely online.

1.       Keep Family Life Separate from Your Online Sharing

If you are in a leadership role, it is best practice to maintain two separate sets of social sharing; one for business and one for your personal life.  Family pictures, events and comments are private and can be taken out of context in a business setting.    Keep your personal social sharing meaningful and private, while enjoying the benefit of actively contributing for business purposes on designated accounts for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and/or Google+.

Building an online audience is important for business leaders and networking, but that audience does not (and should not) have complete access to your non-business related sharing on private channels.

2.       Be Aware of Geomapping and Location Reporting

Many social sharing programs such as Instagram and Twitter allow for a default option that reports your geographic location.  Are you away on business in another city?  Your posts will be geotagged with the name of that city, or even more detail down to the establishment where you are eating, shopping or your hotel.

While many people may be comfortable with reporting their geographic location to their public audience, it can also increase your safety risk, particularly if you are travelling alone.  Check your social sharing options and disable geomapping or location reports if you would rather not broadcast where you are at all times.

3.       Do Not Respond to Trolling or Digital Discord

Whether on personal or professional accounts, there is a possibility of discord where your sharing may elicit a negative response from your audience.  The general rule is “do not feed the trolls” or in other words, if the comments are threatening or harassing in any way, simply do not respond.  You can opt to quietly remove or ban an individual from  your social network to avoid future comments, but avoid arguing in the public domain.

Remember that  any comments you make can linger online for months and even up to two years in search engine cache.  Exercise your professional judgement when it comes to responding to conversations online.  Engagement is good, but responding to (or escalating) online harassment can negatively impact your online reputation.


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