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January 11, 2011
Living In Public
 
Millions of years ago, in the 1990s, Josh Harris lit up the pop-culture radar with an art project (experiment?) called WeLiveInPublic—a site that used online video to voyeuristically display all the details of his life. He was called insane and egotistical.
 
Today we live in a world where people sharing all the details of their lives is no longer called wild and experimental—it’s called Facebook.

So, how might an employee’s digital transparency benefit an employer?
 
In the age of permanent digital record, where being invisible online is more suspicious than overexposure, highly visible and highly social employees are increasingly in demand. Strange then, that the typical interview process doesn’t explore this topic at all.
 
We suggest asking straightforward questions to determine whether an employee and employer share a similar philosophy about the role of “social media.” Open-ended questions should jump-start conversations in which both sides share their viewpoints and approaches: “What social media platforms are important for marketing and PR success?” or “Which social media tools do you use personally or professionally?” or “What lessons have you learned in the past year regarding social media as professional communication?”
 
If social media is very important to your organization, we’d even suggest a test—give a candidate a stack of recent press releases and 30 minutes—to see how they translate key corporate messages into updates, post headlines, tweets, etc.
 
All social media impacts your brand, and the nearly instant indexing of social media makes everything your employees post available to those who search. Your employees are already living in public. What are you doing to encourage, cultivate, and benefit from it?
 

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Alec McNayr and Alan Beard are principals of the social media agency McBeard Media, and have led digital content campaigns for clients like 20th Century Fox and Nokia. They are authors of the Random House best seller Historical Tweets: The Completely Unabridged and Ridiculously Brief History of the World. They live in the Los Angeles area.
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