With social media and social networks on the tip of everyone’s tongue, I begin to think about how people across an organization will merge their personal and professional identities online.

After all, we’ve moved a long way from wondering what will pop up about us in a Google search. As we get more and more connected on the Social Web, we are archiving more and more digital content about ourself.

Two blog posts that I came across today connected to this thought in an interesting way.

Picture 1.pngFirst, a ground level view from a blogger in the multi-family space, Heather Blume of Behind The Leasing Desk. (This is a great hands-on, practical source of information about getting and keeping tenants, by the way.)

And if you think your computer literate residents haven’t checked out your MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn, insert social media platform here, then you’re very mistaken. I know they’re your spaces, but when they’re on the web, you lose the right to say who comes and goes on them to some extent, so before you post those pictures of your 21st or 40th birthday party last week, you might want to think twice. My basic rule of thumb has been the same since high school for anything on the internet. If I wouldn’t want my dad to find it, I don’t even consider posting it. My dad is pretty net savvy and has a habit of finding things you don’t want the man to find. He’s a dad, that’s what he does. It makes most internet choices a pretty easy call. Think about it this way: would you want your manager to google you? What about your manager’s manager?

Reputation management is everything in a society where privacy has been reduced to the minimum amount possible and when you work for a company, you’re not only looking at your reputation but also that of your employer. Just like Revlon noticed the reputation damage of Rihanna, your competitors, whether outside your current company or even someone you’re competing with for an internal promotion, will also see and exploit the weakness.

That’s clearly relevant advice when you’re in such close quarters with your customers, but how broadly does it apply in other, disparate industries?

If you listen to the experts at BrandingStrategyInsider, this authentic, open approach is going to have to start at the top, with the CEO.

A strong CEO has credibility and respect not only because of business talent and organizational power but also because of the depth of experience, knowledge, and insight. A suggestion from a visionary CEO with branding talent and managerial experience in branding and marketing is the key driver of the branding efforts and results in any successful organization – internally and externally.

Their prescription is a tall order for most CEO’s. If the success of a company relies on the CEO’s branding genius, then most companies are in a lot of trouble.

But I do think that their emphasis is right: CEO’s need to pick a strategy and embrace it themselves. This is a time when the people in a company have to feel good about leadership doing the things that they are asking others to do.

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When it comes to social media, that’s a lot of exposure for some CEO’s.

I’ve got CEO friends who I am connected with on Facebook or LinkedIn. They’ve got a profile — they must have felt it was necessary for some reason — but their profile is incomplete, or their content is stale.

Abandoned online content is a bad thing for a personal brand. And if a CEO is going to be the personification of a brand, and if they believe there is opportunity for their organization in using a tool like social media, then they have to have the commitment and the energy to keep it up and make it work.