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Rules of Engagement

March 18, 2009

After a very thought provoking presentation by Melissa Hamilton (a regular Tangelos contributor), the topic of what my digital brand says about me was very top of mind for me today. I can honestly say I’ve been somewhat “loose” in the digital world until this point. My Facebook profile doesn’t really have any restrictions. I accept any crazies that want to follow me on Twitter. I monitor my tagged photos every once in awhile, but mostly just to un-tag the ugly ones, not with an eye on what the rest of the photos say about me. Luckily or unluckily, my life is not all that scandalous…and the digital me is equally neutral. At first glance, digital me and real me are on track.


However, then I got to thinking about how I actually ACT in the digital world vs. the real world – and how social networks really do motivate users to do some random, and often times quite BOLD things. Mary Pat talked about this same thing in a Tangelos post earlier this year – Is following the same as stalking? She discussed how following on Twitter is considered flattery, while following on a dark street would be considered terrifying.  Another example in my digital life is that I often wish people happy birthday through Facebook, but would never in a million years call or send a card to those same people because it would be awkward and maybe even creepy that I remembered their birthdy and/or knew where they lived. If someone was saying something I didn’t like in a meeting at work, would I get in their face and do a thumbs down sign? That’s what Facebook status commenting encourages. The list of weird behavior could go on and on. It’s obvious that social networks are challenging the normal rules of engagement.


This video from BBC 3 London’s show The Wall is a funny example of what I’m trying to say here. And it’s all done in a British accent, so it is obviously much more entertaining that I will ever hope to be.

It’s quite obvious once you think about it. Poking, tweeting, tagging, thumbs up or thumbs downing – we are talking about a crazy other world here, one with its own language. But, I do wonder if the social networking rules of engagement will start having their effect on reality’s rules of engagement? Are people becoming bolder in real life? Could social networking actually be helping breed real life stalkers?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. melissahamilton permalink
    March 19, 2009 9:57 am

    This list of “if people are messing with your brand” came from Ad Age with regards to the smarties incident (read MP’s post at ) but it also has implications for your personal brand too!

    What to do if people are messing with your brand online

    1. Don’t fight it. Trying to cajole, warn, threaten or even sue someone who is misusing your product or making a joke will only come off as heavy-handed. “Maybe some Neanderthal thinks that they can control this, but the reality is no one can,” said Pete Blackshaw, exec VP of Nielsen Online Digital Strategic Services. And antagonistic attitudes will only invite more criticism and mocking.

    2. Survey the extent of the problem. Is it a small group of jokers no one will take seriously or a more reputable group? How damaging is what they’re saying or doing? That is, are they completing maligning the product and associating it with extremely unsavory behavior? Or is it just goofing around?

    3. Turn to your social-media crisis plan. And if you don’t have one yet, develop one.

    4. Be open with employees. They use social media too and likely already know about it. But make sure to discuss what’s happening and give them the information you want conveyed (for instance, what to say if a friend asks at a party, “Hey, what’s up with all these kids smoking Smarties?”).

    5. Respond accordingly. At the very least, have a prepared statement for any media calls. Make sure it is available to all senior executives who may be queried. And make sure to respond as quickly and as transparently as possible to any direct questions from your customers.

  2. alexmkerlick permalink*
    March 19, 2009 3:18 pm

    Bahaha. Love the video Nancy.

  3. March 19, 2009 7:47 pm

    Terrific post. We both know that those Facebook photos can be reused by friends at work and made into posters to be plastered about. Innocent Halloween face becomes immortalized art. And I personally have a Facebook friend I wouldn’t recognize on the street who’s posting awkward pictures of me from grade school.

    You need to post some sleuthing pics and add scandalous captions …

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