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There’s a never ending amount of posts out there on how to develop your personal brand; the topic seems like it’s been beaten to death. But nowadays, how you define your brand changes a lot quicker so there’s always something to learn.

It’s easy to develop who you are online when you’ve only been active in the space for a few years, like myself, but what about the younger generation that’s growing up with social media at their fingertips? Unless their parents are watching their every move online, and let’s face it many aren’t, kids are going online without thinking of the future.

I don’t expect a 13-year old to think about what his future employer will say about the things he posts, but as he grows older with the comfort of posting his life online, will it be common sense that he knows those drunken pictures or angry blog posts can easily be found, or will the same things need to be taught?

I got to thinking about this after reading a CBC.ca article about Nathalie Blanchard.

As the article points out, Nathalie is fighting with her insurance company to get her sick benefits back. It all had to do with Manulife finding Facebook pictures of her seemingly having fun at a party when she was on sick leave for major depression.

The pictures used to “catch” Natalie were apparently private, and photos like that are supposedly only findable if you know the direct link, even if it’s been deleted off of Facebook, according to the article.

Natalie’s pictures probably weren’t as bad as Manulife is making them out to be. This brings me back to my original point. If a teenager posts questionable photos of themselves but later realize they don’t want those photos out there, is it too late? That content is available long after they’ve been deleted, and could pop up anywhere.

Also, if a potential employer decided to research your online persona, and 45 per cent of them do, according to Harris Interactive, you should really avoid posting about how much you hate your boss or job; common sense really.

So for everyone untagging and deleting photos they don’t like, look out because they’ll always be there. And for those that may be comfortable with posting anything now, down the road your priorities could change and that content could come back to bite you.

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Last week I finished reading Twitterville by Shel Israel. Prior to picking it up, I’d heard a lot of positive about the book. So needless to say when Shel came to speak at Third Tuesday in Toronto I felt compelled to buy it.

The good

I found Twitterville gave great, real world examples of how Twitter is working in the business world from big companies to small non-profits. These companies are using the site to engage with stakeholders by gaining trust and developing conversations, not just feeding corporate speak. One of those large companies is Dell.

The book explains how Ricardo Guerrero, an online marketer at Dell, discovered Twitter at SXSW in early 2007. By June of that year, after figuring his way around the site, Ricardo created Dell Outlet. Since then, Dell’s presence on the site has soared and according to the book, earlier this year, Dell announced it had made $3 million in sales, thanks in large part to its activity on Twitter.

The bad

In terms of the book’s organization, “Part 3” along with the “Afterward” could have easily been put at the front. For me this works better because even though the book is great for all audiences, many readers are learning about Twitter and why they should join; having it at the front lets them get comfortable with how the site works. And as someone who knows how the site works, I found having it at the end took something away from the book. There wasn’t that feeling of conclusion because I spent the last while skipping through pages that were irrelevant to me.

The ugly

I can get over the organization of the book to some extent, but failing to fact check is something different altogether. It took a lot away from the book seeing the editors not catch that David Miller is the Mayor of Toronto. Instead I saw in his place,  Sandy Kemsley, a Torontonian yes, but definitely not the mayor. After Googling a bit, I saw she wrote a blog post on the situation; others had noted the gaff and told her about it.

She brings up a great point by saying, “I didn’t buy the book: if it lists me as the mayor of Toronto, who knows what other nonsense it contains?”

That simple mistake could mean the difference from recommending the book to all who will listen, to panning it because people would have doubts if other stuff were truly facts.

Conclusion

In the end, this book is not without it’s flaws (some bigger than others). It is, however, a great handbook on examples of Twitter’s use in business. My recommendation is to pick it up, however if you do, do it soon; the book is completely relevant, but as with anything involving social media, it can quickly become not so.


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I now blog at inseansopinion.com full time. Please visit me there for movie and book reviews as well as any other commentary that comes to mind.

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