Each of my friends have their own brand. They don’t know it, but they have it.
This is a relatively new concept, too. I didn’t have a brand 20 years ago. Now I have a brand that reached over 11,000 people this month. My words, what I care to share with people around the world, have a remarkably different impact than they did 20 years ago when I would tell my buddy a joke that might have been full of incorrect information.
Every day my feeds are full of misinformation. Infographics that are incorrect at best, but blatant lies are more common. I know why they are shared, too. They’re catchy. They’ve got a cool look to them, they make someone laugh, why not share them? Who cares if they’re right or wrong?
Well, for one, I care. I’m sure I’ve shared my fair share of misinformation online. Everyone has; it’s impossible to fact check everything we see. We think of Facebook as a way to communicate with our friends and family; not understanding that anything we share with them may be seen by hundreds of people we don’t know. So our words have a significantly further reach than they ever did before.
I don’t like the idea of not being able to trust my friends’ opinions and thoughts, but there are a few who share things that are blatantly false so prolifically that I can’t help myself. When questioned about it, they always respond with the same kind of answer: “I don’t know if it’s true; I just thought it was funny.”
The biggest issue with that, of course, is any time someone shares something on Social Media, it is blatantly posted with a picture of that person’s face, (or an image that we recognize and associate with them) and their name. It’s almost the same, in today’s world, as affixing your signature to a document. You’ve given your tacit approval to everything in the meme or article that you’ve shared.
To someone who doesn’t know you, that’s how you will be defined. And we don’t spend any time at all teaching people how to cultivate their personal brands.
Some people won’t care. They’ll say, “What does it matter how strangers see me? That’s not who I am.” They have a good point, too. One should not be beholden to a view of themselves that someone else has. Even if that person is a long-time friend. But much like a bad reputation, the effects of other people’s thoughts will bleed over into your every day life. And unlike a word of mouth reputation, it might be difficult to see how someone is reacting to your Social Media presence.