17/07/2013

By Alexia Leachman, Founder of www.headtrash.co.uk

Because of this it’s tempting to oversell – exaggerate your achievements a little or maybe even make things up altogether (a very dangerous strategy – especially when it comes to academic attainments or work experience and future career goals).

And even the great and good aren’t immune when it comes to this type of online manipulation. Just recently Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Scott Thomson was caught out for ‘creating’ degrees on his CV that he’d failed to attain. The result of his rather large ‘embellishment’? He was sacked from the company just two months into a new job and received no severance pay whatsoever (this was despite the IT firm having poached him from Ebay).

Various ways to kid ourselves – and others – on social media
But deceptions on social media don’t just end there. Most of us have heard about the software tools which allow you to ‘buy’ followers on Twitter, greatly exaggerating the influence you might have in your chosen sphere. Then there are the LinkedIn endorsements, many of which frankly seem to originate from friends. So it’s not surprising if you end up being unable to distinguish fact from fiction – even, in the worst case scenario, when it comes to personal branding ie you may begin to believe your own lies (maybe Mr Thomson did too) for that’s when things can really start to get tricky.

Creating a persona we don’t recognise
Another way to come across as ‘untruthful’ on social media is to copy others (of course we can do this in real life too but thanks to the permanence of social media it’s ‘out there’ for good). This is when individuals set themselves up as some type of guru in their sector but none of their ideas or even their delivery is their own.

They are a mish-mash of what’s already out there with no real authentic thought or even personality put into their posts. Again that’s damaging to your personal brand because it’s not allowing the real you to come through. When tempted to emulate some other authority figure it’s as well to remember the words of the great Irish author Oscar Wilde – “be you because others are already taken.”

Alexia Leachman is a mojo-hunter and helps business leaders to find their mojo by helping them to clear their head trash, tell their story, raise their profile, build their digital presence and manage their reputation. Alexia is also the founder of www.headtrash.co.uk and she regularly speaks and writes, and has authored a chapter on Online Reputation for the book “Hit me! The Secrets of getting your small business to punch its weight online”. You can follow her on Twitter at @AlexiaL and find out more at www.alexialeachman.com

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