Social Media Tip: What's Published Online Is Public and Searchable

 By: Debra Gould
If you take nothing else from the Tiger Woods PR disaster, realize that there is very little that is private anymore. While you may not be famous, any time you send an email, Facebook message, Twitter status update or 'Direct Message' you're essentially leaving a trail of digital communication. That applies to all those Facebook quizzes you might be tempted to take too.

Leaving a trail can be extremely beneficial in some cases. For example, if you're having an email discussion with a client who owes you money, you can have documentation that they promised to pay on a certain date (and so on and so forth). Of course if you follow the business model set out in the Staging Diva Home Staging courses, you wouldn't find yourself in that situation in the first place, but I digress. The point is, sometimes a digital trail can be helpful.

However, this permanence of communication can also tarnish your image.

Tiger Woods is a good example. Before the scandal about his car accident and "marital indiscretions" broke out, we all had positive feelings about Tiger - he had a squeaky clean image. Then all of a sudden, allegations of an affair hit the Internet (as if the specter of a golf-club-swinging wife weren't hint enough) and we all hoped it wasn't true.

But it's hard not to be convinced when text messages that were exchanged between he and his mistress are published everywhere, not to mention an embarrassing voicemail so easily shared on the Internet and subsequently broadcast on TV. From now on, with the amount of press this incident has received, Tiger's devoted family man image is ruined. This story, those text messages and that voicemail message will live forever on the Internet.

Assuming you won't be doing too much potentially reputation-damaging texting in your home staging business (though it's good to keep in mind that your texts can be used against you) you should be aware of the permanence of anything you put out there on the Internet.

Twitter can be one of the most dangerous applications to use if you're not sure of what you're doing. Each "tweet" or mini blog post you publish is out there in the world, with your name or your business name associated with it, when you press Update or Send.

You can delete an individual post of course, but it's automatically indexed by Twitter and search engines. For as long as the Internet exists, someone searching your name can find anything you've published on Twitter. This is why it's a good rule of thumb to never post anything online or in an email that you wouldn't feel comfortable with seeing in the local newspaper with your name beside it.

Social networking is a must for any entrepreneur in this day and age, home stagers included, and Twitter is an extremely beneficial tool and a great way to build a business. But if you're using it incorrectly you can be wasting time and damaging your image.
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