Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Your Facebook Profile Pic Makes You Look Bad

At work today, I got a call from a coworker wondering who ran our company's Facebook page. She was concerned by one of our Facebook "fans" whose profile picture apparently was a scantily-clad Playboy model. My coworker thought we should kick out the fan for his potentially offensive profile picture.

The fan in question is not an employee of my company. If he were an employee, I could call him and let him know that the company is at this moment developing guidelines for how employees behave on social media sites – even when on their own time. He could take that under advisement and either change his profile pic or go to work for a hipper industry.

Frankly, I'm not sure why a young man with, shall we say, more artistic aspirations, would want to become a Facebook fan of an engineering company. But he is. And that is just how the web works.

I spoke with our social media administrator, and we agreed that the best course of action was no action, but the situation reminded me of a phone interview I had with professional speaker and coach, Jane Atkinson. I was talking to her about personal branding, and how a person's brand influenced their professional opportunities. The conversation turned to channels (like Facebook and LinkedIn) for marketing the "self brand". She navigated to my Facebook page as we spoke, and she saw my profile pic – a photo of a statue of three deer in a, shall we say, artistic pose.

I was deeply embarrassed. The personal brand article turned out great, but I instantly became aware of how my credibility was jeopardized by my admittedly juvenile sense of humor.

My internal debate has been that desire to live an unfettered life versus finding new opportunities, personally and professionally. Perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt said it best with "with great freedom comes great responsibility" – or am I thinking of Ozzy Osbourne who wrote "I don't want to change the world/I don't want the world to change me"?

It's a new world, I guess. Love it or leave it.

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