This is the Real Me

I’ve considered shutting down my Facebook page recently. The negative energy on the site some days makes me crazy. I have this personality that takes peoples opinions very personally and to heart. I’m not the type of guy who can be your ‘friend’ and not agree with who you are. I wrote a post awhile ago about branding. The post dealt with how the perception that people have of us or our organization based on what we put out there for the world to see. Our Facebook posts, photos on Instagram, tweets, and our blog entries. All of those speak volumes about who we are. The real us. I’m discovering that in a lot of cases I don’t like the real you! But that’s OK if that’s who you are. People who I have known for years I am finding out that I really never knew. Both in a good way and a bad way. People who I have held in some level of esteem disappoint me on a regular basis with the things that they ‘put out there.’ And people but some pretty shameful things out there. With every new controversy I am more and more inclined to hit the ‘unfriend’ button. But I don’t because then my social networks would only be people who believed like I do and that would be close minded. Only rarely do I engage and then only when I have a valid opinion that I have researched and can support. I also struggle because of what I do and how I am perceived in the community. Being confrontational online is not part of the brand that I want for myself. I know, this is my hang up. I’m trying to be more understanding about how other people think. It is just difficult based on a 10 word meme whether that is really who you want me to think you are or if you didn’t really put a whole lot of thought into it.

I guess this post really comes down to a few simple things:

1. Research – In the age where everyone has a computer in their pocket and at least one other device to access the interweb, take a few minutes to look into the facts of a story that you are going to share. It really isn’t hard in the world of Google at your fingertips. At least take the time to determine if the information comes from a reliable source. (Yes, the large majority of kids in school say the Pledge of Allegiance everyday. No, nobody in public schools is stopping your child from praying before he eats his lunch. No, Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachman and Mike Huckabee did not defend Josh Duggar.)

2. In the same vein, take time before posting, sharing, commenting, retweeting, etc. The world sees this stuff! It is worth a few minutes of contemplation to determine the value of what you are sharing, how your posts reflect on who you are, and the pros/cons of your online activity. Remember: This is the real you; this is your brand!

3. Do your best to add value to the feeds of your followers. The world needs creators and if your means of creation is social media then use it for good and not evil. I know that everyone wants to post a gag or a funny picture every once in a while but for every cartoon or funny meme that you post, share at least one good article or picture, add at least one thoughtful comment, write at least one post that helps define who you are.

This is my attempt. I can assure you that this is the real me.

Protect Your Brand

There has been a lot of chatter recently on Twitter concerning ‘branding.’ I never really thought about branding and really thought it was a bunch of crap. That is until I read this tweet:

Now that makes sense to me.It is a wake up call to all of us and most definitely a new way to portray social media to tweens and teens.

For professionals, we can talk about having separate accounts for professional use and private use but the reality is that whatever we put out there represents us. We can’t hide behind psuedonyms or private accounts. We can, I guess, but it doesn’t change who we are. Whatever we put out there impacts our brand. I don’t think there is any positive or negative; it is just a representation of who we are. As educators and professionals we should strive for transparency in our tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, etc. We should put out there who we truly are and what we truly believe so that when others read our content, they know who we really are.

This rings true for our schools’ social media platforms. The content creators for our schools should be putting out the message that this is who we are. This is what we believe and this is what we strive to do for students.This is the positive side of social media that many districts still fear.

Mr. Whitby shared the above tweet also. How true! We are being branded in public education on a daily basis. This is our opportunity to take the bull by the horns and put our content out there. There is no question as to the power of social media. Parents are on. Taxpayers are on. Students are on. We can touch our worlds in 140 characters or less and change our brands for the better.

The second thought I have on branding is that it is important that students know this information too. On a daily basis they are building their brand. What they say and post tells the world who they are and how they want the world to see them. For the most part I think kids are who they really are more often on social media than in everyday life. They should remember that this is who the world sees. That’s right, kids, the whole freakin’ world. Protect your tweets but know this: What you say is who you are or who you want to be no matter whether the general public can see it or not.

I’ll retire now with one final tweet from Dr. Weston. In both of the instances in this post, I don’t mean for anyone to be different than who they are. The fake you is hard to maintain and very stressful. {Ever watch Catfish?). The real you is your brand. Keep it safe!