Archive for August, 2013

Privacy and social engagement

Posted by on Wednesday, 28 August, 2013

IMG_5332On the heels of last week’s post about the fear of saying the wrong thing, there’s another fear that also prevents some people from engaging in social media: privacy.

Privacy and security fears have been noted as the number one biggest fear for anyone who spends time on-line. For some of these people, those fears and concerns about privacy are also preventing them from engaging in social business. While I will go on in a moment to help address some concerns and outline a few ways to tighten things down, I’ll say this first and up front: privacy on the internet is a myth. If you are engaging in any social medium, you are doing so knowing that you can be identified by the information you share and have hopefully consciously made the choice to accept that you will not have complete privacy.

Social business thrives on the building of your own digital eminence, which can’t be done anonymously. Social business transcends the digital realm and connects us to the physical world as well. Make no mistake, when we play on social sharing sites, we do so either with pseudo-anonymity or we compromise how much factual data we reveal about ourselves.

That said, the question becomes “how can I maintain some level of privacy and still be relevant on social media?”  Simply said, using your real name, but maintaining minimal other profile information will let you build your reputation based on what knowledge you share without providing any more identifying information than your name. This allows you to connect your professional career and online presences to build digital eminence and grow your career.

Most sites require very little to be in your social profiles. Typically this profile information consists of your display name, real name, and possibly location. Some may require an image, though that is easily and often addressed with a non-personal photo. Both of these have solutions which involve obfuscation to help bolster your privacy, both of which, however, go against best practices for building your own online reputation. So, at the minimum, your name will be visible. That alone can make some people uncomfortable, but that is the starting point for playing in social business: people should know who you are, as that builds trust across your network.

Beyond your name, and preferably a photo, any other bits of information you provide should be done so with the knowledge that anything you share will likely be publicly accessible. Even if you have multiple disconnected accounts, if there are common names or usernames between them, people can begin to connect those dots. Unless you have a VERY common name, the concept of security through obscurity is no longer relevant. While not mean to scare you, this is a big consideration and something to think about every time you share a link or write a post: that content will follow you. Here is a great article on a social engineering hack just published yesterday that allowed access to accounts based on shared or publicly available content.

One way to help improve some levels of privacy would be to maintain separate digital personas for personal and professional use. While I don’t necessarily recommend this approach as noted in my previous blog post on the topic, I do understand why some individuals would prefer the multiple account strategy. My recommendation for those who do adopt this method is to use your real name in your professional account only, and not for any personal account. This will help disconnect the personal content from your professional content. Likewise, only share information and content related to your professional expertise, as this will help grow your eminence but also helps protect your personal privacy if only professional content is shared.

In cases where your real name is required for a personal account (as is the case for Google+ and common practice on Facebook), you have the ability to lock down those accounts to reduce the potential for search indexing to occur and connect content from your personal and professional accounts which share the same real name.

Following are a few great articles on how you can improve privacy settings on Facebook, GooglePlus, LinkedIn, Twitter (with a tumblr bonus), and Pinterest:

Of course, there are also some simple things you can do that don’t require any configuration of preferences or settings:

  • Understand that anything you say/ post online will stay online. The internet remembers everything.
  • Manually approve or disapprove follow requests. Approve only those you know, ignore or block those you don’t. If unsure, ask who they are via DM or private message.
  • Remember that it is possible to inadvertently reveal identifying information through status updates, photographs, comments in friends’ networks, community or group membership, and other non-direct means.
  • Some may seem overtly obvious, but every day I hear of how this information has been posted and them misused: So don’t publish your date of birth, phone number, email address, or physical address. And especially not your social security, credit card, or driver’s license numbers.
  • Remember that what you post can be seen and shared by others even in a small controlled group. Always think about what you say and what photos you post as it could be reshared by someone in your network or otherwise be seen by people not in the intended audience .
  • Don’t publicize future vacation plans, especially the time you’ll be traveling.
  • Don’t use location-based services when posting to social networks.
  • Actively manage your friends lists, circles, or following/followers to ensure your own comfort level with your network.
  • Ok I kind of lied, this is a preference/setting bullet, but it is important! Check your privacy settings often. Many social sites roll out new features and new privacy settings without widespread announcements.

For more tips, check out the page at which discusses cyber stalking and steps to take to mitigate potential issues:

Please note that this is not a comprehensive security/privacy post, but one intended to help get you thinking about how you can manage your own privacy to the level that is right for you.

And. as always my dear friends, #StayVigilant!

The fear of saying the wrong thing

Posted by on Tuesday, 20 August, 2013

IMG_3498The number one barrier that prevents people from engaging in social business is their fear of saying the wrong thing.

Addressing that issue has proven difficult as it involves so many variables and is deeply rooted in the individual’s own psychology. It is a myriad of obstacles that get in the way of engagement here, any one of which can be the one issue that prevents someone from playing in social media, or it could be a complex web of issues woven to prevent adoption. For me, the solution was two-fold:

1. I had to own my words; to stand behind them and take responsibility for them.
2. I then had to understand and own the ramifications of my words. For me this entailed being okay with people not agreeing with me or disliking me because of my words (something I still struggle with).

Luckily, I have a wonderful tool to help guide me in the social media world as I interact and engage in valuable conversation. The IBM Social computing guidelines give me the framework to avoid saying the wrong things on-line and provides you with the same benefit:

Quoted below from the IBM Social Computing Guidelines with my own highlights for emphasis:

1.   Know and follow IBM’s Business Conduct Guidelines.

2.   IBMers are personally responsible for the content they publish on-line, whether in a blog, social computing site or any other form of user-generated media. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time; protect your privacy and take care to understand a site’s terms of service.

3.   Identify yourself– name and, when relevant, role at IBM-when you discuss IBM-related matters such as IBM products or services. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.

4.   If you publish content online relevant to IBM in your personal capacity it is best to use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”

5.   Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.

6.   Don’t provide IBM’s or a client’s, partner’s or supplier’s confidential or other proprietary information and never discuss IBM business performance or other sensitive matters about business results or plans publicly.

7.   Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers on business-related matters without their approval. When you do make a reference, link back to the source and do not publish content that might allow inferences to be drawn which could damage a client relationship with IBM.

8.   Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, discriminatory remarks, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any similar conduct that would not be appropriate or acceptable in IBM’s workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy.

9.   Be aware of your association with IBM in online social networks. If you identify yourself as an IBMer, ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself with colleagues and clients.

10.  Spirited and passionate discussions and debates are fine, but you should be respectful of others and their opinions. Be the first to correct your own mistakes.

11.  Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. IBM’s brand is best represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on IBM’s brand.

12.  Don’t misuse IBM logos or trademarks and only use them if you have the authority to do so. For example, you shouldn’t use IBM in your screen name or other social media ID.

Take a moment and also real the Detailed Discussion section of the IBM Social Computing Guidelines here, as it will explain some of the above in better and clearer terms than I am capable.

Once you have a handle on the social computing guidelines, life becomes so much easier…. but even then, you or your employees may still be hesitant to start sharing, or think they don’t have anything to say… that’s okay. After creating your account, go find a few people to follow then start listening to how they are interacting. Take the next step by highlighting some of the ideas or information you find that you agree with and reshare those. After a while you’ll start to really get a feel for what you want to be saying and how to say it effectively as well.

Lastly, and this may seem overly simplistic though it is true: don’t worry about making a mistake. If you are playing in the social spaces you will make a mistake; but that’s okay too. Acknowledge when it happens and make your correction as soon as you can. In this way you can own your words and your mistake. This behaviour makes all the difference between a big or small mistake; between something that blows up or blows past.

Remember that social business is no different from any other interaction in the core values. If you pick up a phone or respond to emails in a professional capacity you can engage in social business as well. You have the trust of your company behind you, all you need now is the same trust in yourself and your success will be imminent!   Just remember to follow the social computing guidelines, especially so if you share something you disagree with…