Posts Tagged: online profile

Know The Social Cost Of Your “Social Graph”

Let’s play Buzzword Bingo for a moment. The average internet user, logging on to Facebook or Twitter or MySpace to find family and friends, has no idea what “social graph”, “social leverage”, “semantic web”, “online presence”, “social engagement”, etc means in the online world. They are just so many buzzwords floating in the wind. Heck, a lot of self proclaimed social media ‘experts’ don’t know, either – not really. That lack of knowledge are what companies like Facebook who use mining your personal data as a business model bank on when they make frequent UI (user interface) changes and launch things like Beacon (from a few years ago) or this week’s “Like” feature.

Why pick on Facebook when companies like Google have similar issues? Because Facebook’s mangling of user privacy is quite intentional, happens frequently, affects even those who don’t really ‘live’ online like some of us do; whereas for Google it is more a side effect of the services they offer than a purposeful business model, I think, and one that has a severe downside for them in a variety of ways. Think back to the Buzz launch recently and the issues and outcry that caused for Google. Because it isn’t their business model, but a side effect, they were quite quick to remedy the issue.

Facebook’s launch of what I’m thinking of as the ‘ubiquitous like’ puts user apathy, lack of internet education and the need for awareness front and center for me. Why user apathy? Think about it: how many of the internet users you know are proactive about checking their privacy settings on all platforms weekly, and again with every new change like the ubiquitous like, and diligent about reading those long, boring TOS (Terms of Service) and EULA (End User License Agreement) pages regularly (or heck, even just when signing on the first time)? Not many, right?

A lack of education and awareness about common internet practices, best practices and being proactive about your own basic online safety comes into play also. So many companies and educational institutions still don’t have even a basic social media education, much less any sort of social media or online guidelines for their employees and students. It’s appalling, and it’s creating and/or reinforcing a gullible, overly trusting generation of users who can’t figure out how to protect themselves, or worse, don’t see a need to.

Not knowing how much this apathy and lack of knowledge and awareness can affect you in terms of privacy and safety is the greatest cost on the internet right now for the end user. Each time you interact blindly online, it has a potential consequence, of varying degrees of import, no matter where you are. This is no different from real life interactions, but for some reason, people have trouble making the mental leap that there is no more great divide between online and offline life anymore. There is no separation of personal and professional, and things you share actually go a variety of places and programs to be sifted, studied, archived, stored, and used.

You might wonder why someone who has a strong social media component to my job would advocate for caution. That’s just it, I’m advocating for caution and awareness, not silence or lack of sharing! The engagement you find online has many more positives than negatives, but just like anything you do, inherent risks that you can take time to minimize.

On Foursquare? I am. I love Foursquare. Don’t check in a location alone. Simple common sense. Don’t leave your home unattended if you have ever checked in there and then go on a trip (though I’d recommend against home check ins anyway for safety reasons). Again, common sense. On Twitter? Having a public Twitter fight? Talking about your drug use? Crowing about cheating the tax man? Talking about how you evade your collection agent? All of that is indexed by Google and out there for all to see (and now also by the Library of Congress). Again, this is all common sense. On Facebook? I bet you haven’t checked your privacy setting in eons. Go to this post by GigaOm and check (and change) them right now. You may be shocked at what Facebook is tracking, all because apathy makes people not go back and make sure their privacy settings haven’t changed on a fairly frequent basis.

There are hundreds of social networks out there and they all have some benefit to users and to companies and organizations. the positives FAR outweigh the negatives – many of my business collaborators and close friends are those I’ve met online through three years on Twitter and time spent cultivating relationships on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. But don’t be stupid about it, folks – just like in real life, look both ways before you cross the street, don’t take candy from strangers, etc. You learned everything you need to know to be safe online in kindergarten, I promise, you just need to be proactive about your own safety and privacy.

Online Profile: Asset of the Future

If you follow me on Twitter then you know I have a new book in the works with co-author Jim Keenan. It’s pretty exciting stuff, and we are so excited by the work we are doing we have a panel up for SXSW 2010 based on our research as well. Voting is still open until tomorrow (9/4/09), by the way, so please go vote for the panel and comment on it as well if you would like to hear our case studies, research and thoughts in person!

The basis for the book is the simple yet heady premise that your online profile will become your greatest asset as we march toward the future. It will be worth more than your house, your car, the status of your parents, your race, your gender, your monetary background, and more. Because of the way the online world (not just social media) works as aliving breathing resume, an extension of your whole life experience, it can be leveraged continually to direct the path of your life.

Some of the things we touch on in the book:

  • Why we will have more online friends than offline friends
  • Why we will give money to strangers and date people we’ve never met
  • Why having a strong online presence will be critical to ones social and financial survival
  • The value of eliminating traditional expectations
  • The diminishing emphasis of the handshake and face to face interaction
  • The decline of the traditional resume in favor of the living resume
  • How it’s no longer about “First Impressions” but “Lasting Impressions”
  • The expectation that any online activity could be a contribution to society and your future
  • Why providing information on a “need to know” basis will no longer be acceptable
  • The shift to a global economy and the need for an online presence to compete
  • Why social media will be at the core of our daily lives
  • Online presence as validation
  • Wisdom and peril of the crowd
  • Industry and technology trends and how they will affect you
  • So much more… I’d have to disclose too much of the proprietary information in the book to list everything here, though.