When you participate in the social realm - such as a comment on Twitter or updating your Facebook status - Who do you represent? Yourself? Your employer? Both?
I'm always cautious about what I post. Perhaps to a fault. I'll consider all sorts of angles from potential audience to potential misinterpretation. There's no doubt that my contributions in public forum are influenced by my affiliation with EMC. I'm not suggesting this is right or wrong - it's how I'm wired.
Let me give you an example. I'll make it fictitious to cover myself (see, there I go again).
I *hate* Bob's Bait and Bagels... Every time I go to buy some fresh worms, they're out. Whenever I go looking for a nice fresh bagel, they only have onion (blech). Their customer service is lousy but it's the only bait and bagel shop around.
In a frustrated tirade, I unleash my rage. I Tweet my dissatisfaction around poor Bob. I'm so mad I fire up a Facebook group for folks who, like me, have simply been unable to get decent bait or bagels from Bob. I'll show them.
Come to find out, Bob's an EMC customer. In fact, they have a rather significant investment in our products. Bob comes across my rantings (after all, Bob is ALL about measuring brand sentiment) and he's not happy. He follows my profile and sees that I work for one of his suppliers. He follows the channels and I'm (presumably??) issued a cease and desist.
This is but an example. I could easily flip this around and (innocently) turn against my employer. As example, I *hate* our time card system... Let's brand it for fun - the application is called TimeKeeper (more fiction here, folks).
I am so mad at this inept system that I pontificate for days via Twitter...
"EMC's TimeKeeper is the WORST thing I've ever used"
"I'd just assume tear out my own teeth than have to deal with EMC TimeKeeper again"
Now I'm Bob again, and I'm considering doing additional business with EMC. We all know how web savvy Bob is - so he jumps on Twitter search and searches on the EMC brand as part of his decision process...
While he's not sure what this 'TimeKeeper' product is, it's pretty evident this guys angry. (Warning flags go up - in extreme case, his opinion of the brand is incorrectly swayed).
So where are the lines? Do we need lines? Am I over analyzing this? Do I, as an individual, have every right to say what's on my mind regardless of the possible ramifications? Or is the conservative approach the right one?
I'd welcome your point of view. There's clearly no right answer and the collision of professional and personal worlds is a relatively new phenomenon. What do you think?
Update - GREAT discussion going on in the comments! Clearly a hot topic with many POV's. Wanted to update with a few relevant links...