Social Media and Authenticity

I was listening to a radio segment on the subject of Twitter and one of the guests on the show mentioned receiving a Tweet from John Edwards at the exact second he was standing at a podium delivering a speech. Needless to say, that created quite a stir in the Twitterverse. The former presidential candidate now includes a disclaimer indicating when a post was created or submitted by a member of his staff.

Lucky or unlucky for me, I don’t have a staff. I will, on occasion, ask my good friend John to proof some of my blog posts but that’s mainly for two purposes:  1) I hate (hate) editing; and 2) I want to make sure my content adds value. Other than that, everything I share on the social media circuit is authentic or, as defined on–not false or copied; genuine; real; unfiltered.

On the flip side, sometimes you need to filter. Recently,   a public relations writer lost his job because he used Twitter to blast a city he was visiting for a client meeting; you guessed it, the negative Tweet made its way back to the client who, in turn, told his boss.

Make no mistake about it, when it comes to social media, authenticity and personal branding matter.  I’m also a big believer in the concept of microcelebrity. And, as illustrated by the above examples, when we’re more concerned about being on the social media superhighway than we are about being authentic to the people in our virtual community, people will notice.

Before your next Tweet, ask yourself how it will impact your microcelebrity and personal brand.

Shawn Graham is Director of MBA Career Services at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (