I am pro-social media, but I am also pro utilizing the medium for some sort of long term, fruitful strategy. It is already happening now, but I predict that in years to come there will be a terrible negative backlash on the open nature of the internet, specifically social media.
Right now, there are millions and millions of people on the internet doing the most outrageous and bizarre things that they were doing previously in the privacy of their home.
Well, there is nothing inherently wrong with acting like a complete idiot, as long as you know how to act when you walk outside of your home. With the advent of these social outlets, people are now revealing all that they truly are, for better for worse.
Here is a personal case. I remain active on Facebook but, before I changed my preferences, I would get spammed relentlessly by people' promoting their events, music and other messaging that had nothing to do with me. So, I updated my status and here is what transpired:
Now, by the end of the conversation, the guy was coppin' all sorts of pleas and explaining himself, but by then, the impression was made. Never will I forget that guy and part of the conversation is immortalized on Twitpic. With the exposure to influential people so much easier now, there lies opportunity for both intelligent individuals and stupid people alike. Now, this person has likely squandered a moment that could have been for building bridges, not tearing them down.
A friend of mine who is very intelligent, but on the novice side was forced to learn a valuable lesson in social media by ruining a perfectly good entry-level position. He worked for a while as a promising talent at a huge media company. An early adopter of Twitter, he sent out a tweet about a matter sensitive to the company's business and he was promptly fired. Sure, he was a smaller fry in the company and he only had a few followers, but he had the "wrong" followers. Somebody from the job was watching his every move on Twitter and he had no idea.
It is time to get a clue. If you are active on the 'Net, there is a landfill of information being collected on you online. This information NEVER goes away, no matter how much you delete data and dead links. Not only does it not go away, it is easy to capture and store the information by third parties. Furthermore, there are future employers, business associates and others that can develop an opinion about you and you don't even know it. The irony is that many people have online personas that aren't even consistent with their "normal" behavior.
"I see in 2005, you were at a keg party and you were dancing with a horse. Is that your regular life or just the life you lead on the weekends, Mr. Jones," says potential employer.
You better believe you are being googled before you walk up in that meeting or sales pitch. They can see it all these days, so be aware.
You don't necessarily have to beware. As with any tool or device, its usefulness can work in the other way as well. And, I have met several people that have used these brand extensions to elevate their game, not stifle it. There is nothing wrong with having fun or being a joker on Youtube...you just have to make sure that whatever you do doesn't put a hole in your life boat as it leaves the docks.