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From Trusted to Cancelled — Here's How to Navigate the Double-Edged Sword of Social Media Social media is a double-edged sword: skillfully wielded, it has the power either to amplify your voice or open doors to new prospects. Another slip can exact gaping wounds that will bleed your credibility and trust.

By Jon Michail Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • The same reputation you have labored to secure over the years can be gone in the blink of an eye due to controversy, inconsistency, or simply not being professional.
  • Be aware of these perceptions and still know how to use today's social media power.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You work so hard to build up your own name and protect the reputation you have developed. Yet in our super-connected and politically evolving world, everything you post — every comment, photo and status update — could also be used against you. For a CEO, leader or entrepreneur, the task is all the more high-stakes: managing your online persona.

This article will explore social media's profound benefits and potential pitfalls for personal brands and reputations like yours. You will learn strategies that can help you harness its power for maximum effect while sidestepping traps that may otherwise cost you your reputation.

What is personal brand, and why does it matter?

Your brand is that shimmering something of skills, experiences, values, and even your little quirks that make you unique and an increasingly attractive choice in your business.

It is the constant reminder you etch into people's minds about how you need to be perceived and interacted with. Authentic personal branding can make all the difference in the world. It enhances you and increases your solidity, much in the same way that a thick layer of chrome adds to something.

Establishing a well-defined personal brand opens the door to valuable new opportunities, as it allows you to attract like-minded people who resonate with your message. It also prepares you to be the trusted authority, building bonds of trust with audiences so tight it would take steel cables to pull them apart.

This means that if one typifies the loud, clear proclaimer who overflows with contagious passion concerning one's purpose, one presents a consistent narrative that will resonate as a tuning fork does with one's people. In summary, this will lead to business growth and career and personal development galore.

Related: Reputation Management Starts Before Your First Bad Review — Here's How to Develop a Proactive Crisis Plan

The relationship between an online presence and brand reputation

The connection between your presence on social media and your brand reputation has never been stronger these days. Your presence on social media is a high-definition digital mirror that showcases your brand, values, thoughts, triumphs and spirited interactions for the world to see.

Every LinkedIn post, tweet, and digital status update is another brush stroke on the canvas of your portrait, building an unshakeable representation of your radiant essence for others to view. Intentional social media can take your brand to the stratosphere, get your people consistently dialed in, and have you firmly positioned as the thought leader in your space.

In contrast, a poorly managed online presence may easily vanish like a sandcastle in front of an aggressive tide, washing out the foundation of trust that one has built up with hard work.

Every mistake, every controversy, every fight, or one inappropriate overshare on the Internet can take a life of its own and go viral, so much so that it might cause unthinkable, possibly irreparable damage to your reputation. You've got to understand that we're in a digital age that casts a stark spotlight. Every move you make prints an indelible record for the world to scrutinize.

Here are five ways social media can make your personal brand and reputation authentic.

  1. Visibility. Always lead with gravitas. Social media hands you a bullhorn through which you amplify your expertise, insights, and every single win to a global audience who would not have the time to catch up otherwise.
  2. Builds good relations. Avoid Ai generated auto responses, use your real voice in comments, candid conversations, and genuine talks builds up loyal brand connections more effectively than any steel rope ever would.
  3. One will manage to show oneself as an expert. Your constant authoritative content, unique perspectives, and lively activity within the sphere of industry discussions make you a respected thought leader. Indeed, your credibility and influence are drawing close to that of a gravity well.
  4. Brand your reputation. Social media gives you the ability to proactively craft and control your brand message and to act quickly on anything positive or negative that could potentially alter your hard-earned company reputation.
  5. Dominate your network. Social networking makes possible easier communication and collaboration with other visionary competitors, industry bigwigs, and potential partners, hence throwing wide open, opportunities for growth, creative synergy, and win-win-win action.

Digital amphitheaters, which are equaled by a huge potential to create authentic personal brands and reputations, bring substantial risk. One errant step or poorly executed post can deal catastrophic damage in the twinkle of an eye, unraveling years of patience and painstakingly earned progress more quickly than a Jenga tower kicked by a mule.

Related: How to Balance Between Personal and Professional Social Media

Potentially provocative, offensive or controversial content

With all shares potentially provocative, offending, or controversial, you may very literally switch off your reputation's light as if it were a light bulb and lose the audience in thousands.

  1. Inconsistent inauthenticity. Poor presence and lack of earnestness consistent with the cause breeds dissonance. You either seem less credible, confusing, or just disingenuous, worse.
  2. Unengaged Ghosting. Don't play the pretend "I'm too important to respond" game. Ignoring followers, comments, or concerns on social media is a better way to lose trust and loyalty than even leaving a half-melted icicle in the heart of summer.
  3. Unprofessional Faux-Pas. Trudging through embarrassing online meltdowns, the moronic slinging of insults and abuse at other people's comments, or conducting oneself in an unprofessional manner can damage your reputation faster than a wrecking ball through the drywall.
  4. Failure to Address. Burying the head in the sand and bungling controversies, PR crises or negative feedback only fans the flame by providing it with more oxygen. To make things worse, problems get nurtured to create almost insurmountable barriers while trying to rebuild lost public trust.

After all, personal branding in social media is a double-edged sword since, on the one hand, it gives great power to multiply your voice, create absolutely valuable connections, and become a leader of thought for the world. On the other hand, even a small slip can cut very painfully deep with grievous wounds to your reputation.

You must learn to use these digital tools to become an adept brand leader, influencer, or entrepreneur. Achieving the art of appropriately presenting yourself and getting your community involved to grow it to next level is synonymous with enhancing your reputation.

The same reputation you have labored to secure over the years can be gone in the blink of an eye due to controversy, inconsistency, or simply not being professional. Be aware of these perceptions and still know how to use today's social media power.

Jon Michail

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder and Group CEO of Image Group International

Jon Michail is the CEO and founder of Image Group International, an Australia-based corporate and personal-brand image advisory and coaching organization that conducts transformational seminars, workshops and one-on-one coaching in over four continents.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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