In my Psychology of Leadership class, we talked about smart mobs, which are essentially mobs that are made successful by technology. In this age, technology permeates our lives. There’s an app for everything now.
Technology is always in our lives now. Everything is changing. When we used to go to the doctor, all the notes were in files; now every exam room has a computer and everyone who comes in- nurse, doctor, tech, or a specialist- has a login and pulls up all of your notes on the computer. When we went to school, it used to be just textbooks and notebooks; now we download presentations and supplemental materials for class and we can access it from wherever we need to. While older generations might not be proficient in all the newest technology, children are learning to use devices before they can even talk.
All that being said, social media is incredibly important, and only going to get more so. We rely on it for everything from planning events to keeping up with people from all over the world. My Leadership textbook has a section about how in-person leadership will not be sufficient for followers in the future. People will have to have an online presence to be accepted as a leader and I think this is a good guess as to where our society is headed. There is hardly anyone over 13 who doesn’t have some form of social media.
As PR professionals, we might be in charge of social media for the companies we represent. Even more, our online persona is who we are to many of our potential employers before they meet us. We need to make sure that our own personal social media accurately represents who we are. Today, there is no hiding anything on the Internet. Since we were about 12, our teachers have told us to watch what we do and say on the Internet because it never goes away. That has never been more true. Today, we have screenshots and archives. Nothing ever goes away.
As PR professionals, it is important that we understand this and we practice caution with both our personal social media and, potentially, our company accounts. We read in all of my PR classes about people who drunk tweeted from their company account and they didn’t have a job any more. While it isn’t a particularly happy thought, it should serve as a cautionary tale. We should learn from their mistakes. Managing social media is a great power and with it comes great responsibility.