Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thoughts Are Mine...No Kidding

"Thoughts are mine."

Ever seen that tag line? I've used it. I've kidded myself that it actually meant something, as if it was some sort of disclaimer that magically separated me from my role when I used social media. Seriously?

Of Course They Are
Consider how odd this phenomenon is...you've set up a social media account, you've populated the profile with a list of your nifty little interests, dropped in a couple of hashtags, and even included your latest pic. Then to top it all off you add the infamous words "thoughts are mine." Really? What does that mean exactly? I used to think that I knew. It meant that I was not speaking on behalf of my employer, I was simply going to use the Internet to blast my views on a variety of topics for all to see...including my organization's employees. Simple. No harm done. It's just me.

It's hard to be a social media rookie.

Of Course You Represent Your Employer
This realization can be viewed as a significant constraint on your personal life. It can cross the line between personal and professional boundaries and severely limit what you can and can not say. It's almost as if....well...

"It's almost as if we're trying to hide something. Why else would there be so much paranoia around a simple tweet or post?"

Leadership Means You're Actually Accountable
Imagine that? Being responsible for what you say and do because you're a leader. Shocking! Now before everyone gets all twisted around on this, I do realize we're all human and are allowed to have our own lives outside of work. I sure as hell do (uh...hockey anyone?) But if any of us believe we are able to live some sort of parallel private life away from all of the responsibility, authority and success we've worked so hard to achieve then we're poorly mistaken.

How About You
Do you have the courage to embrace your role and be mindful when integrating social media into your whole life? Or, are you so worried about a tweet that mentions a great happy hour or a heavy metal song that you're going to stick with posts about accounting principles?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of simplyzesty


  1. You got me at "heavy metal" . . .

    Love the post !! This is a great point to throw out to the masses because these have to be personal thoughts. One always has to be conscious of what they put out to everyone. Unfortunately, we have some who choose an "on-line" persona vs. being themselves.

    Being genuine and consistent will always keep you in line with your approach. Jay, great post as always. I have to leave now because Thunderstruck by AC/DC just came up on the iPod.

  2. It takes a while to find the balance. For me, the biggest difference is I curse less in public - social media wise and in my own language than i used to. I also consider for a moment before soemthing "controversial" and reflect on how that might be perceived by my larger community, and how it might impact the brands/groups I do community work for. Otherwise, I still run my mouth.

  3. Steve - I agree...we need to be ourselves, not pretend to be someone at work, and then someone completely different in our personal lives.

    Mike - You raise a great point. I call it the "One Second Rule." That is, give yourself a moment to reflect on what you're about to say before you actually say it. That rule is so important when using social media.

  4. Thanks for this post, Jay! it's this kind of thinking and pressure that led me to blog under my nickname. However, what I quickly realized is how much the personal and professional mesh nowadays if you want to present a total, authentic picture of yourself. So I am slowly making my way out of the "blogger closet" and allowing more people to know the total me -- including the people at work. No excuses!

  5. Thanks Buzz. I kept my facebook account "personal" for a long time, but eventually realized that at least for me, opening myself up across all platforms was the best option. Many thanks for the comment!

  6. I don't have a problem with the disclaimers from this perspective - my sense is that many companies would try and clamp down on social media use and participation by visible members of a particular industry or profession without the disclaimer. If dropping a 'thoughts are mine' in a profile or on a blog 'About me' page provides some protection for the company (not sure if it really does), and gives the employee more freedom than they might have otherwise, then I don't have a problem with that. Of course Jay, I agree with you in reality it is hard to separate the professional from the personal, with or without disclaimer language. Excellent post!

  7. Steve - you make some great points. The concerns that employers have may force (I don't mean that in a bad way) bloggers/others to include the disclaimer. That's okay. As you said, it's tough to separate the two worlds. Many thanks for the comment!