Harnessing the Digital Age

Harnessing the Digital Age: Exploring the Impact of Free Speech

Ever heard of the term, “keyboard warriors”?

You know, those folks who hide behind their phones/laptops, and are waaay too careless when posting on social media, that they post before they think.

ctrl, alt, and delete keyboard keys

Image source and credit Teabreaktog

NO BUENO, friends. 🙅🏼♀️

Or how about the infamous, “cancel culture” in the online space?

If you are a keyboard warrior, where you blindly post whatever you want without a care in the world, are you prepared for any repercussions (aka, potentially being cancelled).

We live in a digital world where people freely post whatever they feel like without thinking about the repercussions on their personal brand. What you say online matters and you must take responsibility for your actions. Free speech is a gift that not everyone has, and we must be smart with how we use our online voice.

Let’s dive in.

The Lasting Impression of Online Content: Why you Should Care

digital footprints are digital tattoos

Think of your digital content as a digital tattoo, it’s permanent.

Think of every online post as a permanent mark (or tattoo, if you will).

Unlike spoken words, what you share digitally sticks around—sometimes forever.

Before you hit ‘post,’ think long-term. Ask yourself,“Will this post or comment help or hurt my image in five years?”Or better yet,“Does this represent my values and serve a greater purpose?”

Remember Chrissy Teigen? In June 2021, model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen was canceled after a series of old tweets resurfaced in which she made racist and body-shaming comments. The tweets, which were from 2009 to 2011, were widely condemned.

Chrissy Teigen apologies for past tweets

Chrissy Teigen posts her lengthy apology

Teigen apologized for her comments and said that she was no longer the same person she was when she wrote them. However, the damage had been done and she lost many of her followers and sponsorship deals.

It’s not about fear, but about foresight. Be proud of your digital trail.

Remember, future employers, clients, colleagues—and YEP, even your family will see this. Make sure what you share is something you’re proud to stand by, today and in the future. Make it count.

Your Content Strategy: Quality Over Quantity

Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington is the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, the founder of The Huffington Post, and the author of 15 books.

Every post should have a purpose.

Whether it’s to inform, educate, entertain, or inspire, make sure your content adds value. It’s not about posting just to be seen; it’s about posting content that strengthens who you are as a brand.

Ask yourself,“What message am I sending? How does this contribute to my brand?”

Think Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO at Thrive Global, known for her thought-provoking posts on wellbeing, mindfulness, and the importance of prioritizing self-care.

She uses her platform to inform and educate her audience about the connection between physical and mental health, often sharing practical tips and strategies for improving overall wellbeing.

Huffington’s posts are often accompanied by insightful quotes, inspiring stories, and beautiful visuals, making them both engaging and informative.

By consistently sharing valuable content on wellbeing, she has established herself as a trusted authority in the field and strengthened her brand as a champion of holistic health and happiness.

A well-thought-out post can boost your credibility and showcase your expertise more than numerous aimless posts ever could.

And being authentic shouldn’t be an excuse for thoughtlessness. Yes, be real, be you, but also be wise.

Your words reflect your brand. Does what you’re saying align with your professional values and goals? Are you contributing positively to your field? Authenticity, coupled with wisdom, creates a brand that’s both genuine and respected.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Your online activity affects more than just your brand—it influences your network and community.

A careless post can damage relationships or professional opportunities, not just for you, but for others associated with you.

Which is exactly why cancel culture exists. It’s so easy these days for people to either stand with you or stand against you. And when it’s the latter, it’s also just as easy to take a screenshot and re-share it to the world.

While I’m not necessarily a fan of the cancel culture (because it’s easy to twist words, Photoshop images, or produce fake news online), I can understand why it happens.

At the end of the day, people tend to forget so quickly that the person they’re canceling is still a human being. Let’s not forget that.

As the infamous line from Spiderman goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Consider your impact. Use your power for good.

Employer Social Media Guidelines: Dos and Dont’s

Beyond protecting your brand when you post, you must protect the brands you work for. When I was at Microsoft and Gartner, there were strict dos and don’ts for what I said online because I was an employee. So often people don’t realize there are rules at their company or sometimes a company is incredibly strict, and you have no clue what to say.

Here’s Dell Technologies social media principles for an example. I love what they say under number 5 (this sentence is part of the “Be Nice, Have Fun, and Connect” section): “Social media is another tool you can use to build our brand, just be sure you do it the right way.”

Social Media Principles

Dell’s Social Media Principles

Some general rules I suggest for you if you’re an employee:

  • 👍 DO: Put on your LinkedIn About Section and any personal content that this is your personal thoughts and does not represent your employer
  • 👍 DO: Use your employer’s company posts and blogs as easy resources for you to leverage for content
  • 👎 DON’T: Share your thoughts on religion, politics, war and any issue that is highly controversial. If you’re not sure, ASK.
  • 👎 DON’T: Share your employee grievances online, take that up with HR and your manager

Harnessing Free Speech and Social Media

This year, commit to being intentional with how you’d like to show up online. Reflect on your goals and if your online activity ALIGNS with those goals.

Are you looking to establish yourself as a thought leader? To network more effectively? To grow your business? Remember, every post builds the foundation of your digital footprint. Build wisely and with purpose.

And don’t forget to constantly be learning and observing. Stay on top of new platforms, trends, and best practices and always be willing to refine your strategy.

This year, I’d like to challenge you to commit to being mindful and strategic with your digital activity. Let’s use our platforms for good – to share valuable ideas, support each other, and build a strong, positive community.

Your voice isn’t just for speaking; it’s for making a real difference.

Here’s to making a significant impact online in 2024! 💜

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Powerful personal brands that get visibility and opportunities are those that authentically convey your expertise, establish trust with your audience, and grow brand advocates online.

Inside, you’ll find:

  • 4 Steps to building your personal brand.
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