Going Public

This is not a blog post about the (apparently flubbed) Facebook IPO. It’s about the Molly Porter Public Offering – what you’re seeing here.

Fozzy hits the nail on the head.

This is a manifesto, of sorts. A declaration of principles and intentions for my online presence.

Because of my work, I maintain profiles on all the major platforms. It’s a part of my job to understand inside and out the environments in which my firm’s content and messaging circulates. I have also been extremely selective about who sees what on my personal profiles, locking things down with “defcon” privacy settings.

No more. It’s just too much work.

As of a couple of weeks ago, all my social media profiles are now completely open and all feature my name. This isn’t exactly unique or daring or all that unheard of in my line of work. But it represents a real paradigm shift for me – a convergence of professional and personal life.  (There’s probably a longer post in here about WHY I used social media this way – I’ll save that for another time.)

My decision to go public has multiple immediate positive outcomes.

The most obvious is Search Engine Optimization for my name. Keeping things locked down really hurt me on Google. Unlike the lawyers in my firm, I don’t have a huge public website to host my bio. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms like Tumblr and Pinterest are extremely well optimized for search. Using my name for all my accounts and interlinking them will help me rise above all the bright and busy Molly Porters out there. Anyone with a common name should consider this strategy.

Going public has also allowed me to streamline and simplify-decision making about who to “accept” and what to share. Now, the general public can see everything. This takes the work out of privacy settings and sharing which can be very complex and time-consuming to learn. I share the same stuff with the same people in each channel, while gearing the content to the channel – aspirational images on Pinterest, and link sharing on Twitter, for example.  I do, however, make a couple of exceptions to this rule:

  • On Facebook, some stuff is still “friends only” –  mainly about my kids. Facebook is a great way to share with friends and family, but I’m not a mommy blogger and my kids should be allowed their privacy. However, the remainder of my wall is publicly open and I allow subscribers and comments from the general public. So far, the earth has not split open and swallowed me. So far so good.
  • Everywhere else – I block spammers and ignore requests from salespeople whose offerings aren’t of interest.

Going public has also inspired me to use social media as a personal branding tool – just like I recommend to the lawyers at our firm.  I asked myself – what am I doing on the web and what do I want people to learn about me? Am I just hanging out, or do I have an objective in mind? What are people learning about me? It’s conventional wisdom that anything you post on the web exists in perpetuity somewhere – even if you delete it or lock it down permanently. Going “public” forces me to reassess what I post and how I post. So what if I can’t express everything I feel? Who needs to read that stuff anyway? It’s boring.  And as the holder of the keys to the firm’s social media accounts, do I really want to be in the habit of having a different voice depending on which account I’m inhabiting at that moment? We’ve all heard horror stories….

The best part – by a long shot – is that being public opens me to happenstance encounters with people and content that I might have otherwise missed. Some people call this  serendipity, and they welcome it.  Conversely, I work with people who are extremely risk averse – both by nature and by training. Not everyone can “go public” with confidence, nor is it recommended. But the experience of an open profile allows me to more easily help people find their optimal privacy levels and speak authoritatively on the advantages of putting yourself out there

All this brings me to a video I found when following a thread down a social media “expert” rabbit hole the other night. I didn’t know under the time that I was operating under the principle of the “digital mindset” as explained by Thomas Power in this TED video.

Now my British friend pronounced this guy a nob and a douche – what TED talker isn’t, besides the wonderful Sheryl Sandberg? But what a wonderful and useful concept this is. Not only is being closed, selective and controlling a tremendous amount of work – it’s not actually my natural disposition.

Who knew going public could be such a relief?

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