I write a series on Fireside about social media resources we use here at Wireside that we endorse. There seem to be so many great (mostly) free tools and resources for businesses to track and analyze social media output. I’ve written on this blog about resources like Klout which allows individuals and businesses to gauge their influence on social media; RebelMouse which compiles a user’s social media output into a dynamic, colorful, easy-to-read format; and Bottlenose which allows users to analyze their social media influence and trends in real-time. And I don’t know what I’d do without Hootsuite, which allows me to schedule tweets and Facebook posts in advance, see a number of designated streams at once, and provides basic analytic tools – all for free. It seems that every day a new start-up pops up to make my life as a manager of our social properties easier. And I love that businesses use social media; it allows for a two-way dialogue with clients and customers rather than the one-way dialogue of the past. As a marketer I love engaging with, not just talking to, customers.
But lately, I’ve read news account after news account about adolescents who are being bullied on social media, who are having their lives destroyed by one unflattering picture being posted online and remaining there forever. In a recent article, in a series focusing on what they term “Generation Overshare,” an HLN.com reporter points out the difference between adolescents growing up today and those of past generations. He notes that all of us encountered embarrassing experiences in our teen years (oh yes, I can attest to that!), but what’s changed is that now those embarrassing moments are turning up on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram to exist in perpetuity and be shared and shared until kids in the neighboring town and around the world have seen it. Sometimes those images come back to haunt them into adulthood when they go to get their first job and the hiring manager does a quick Internet search.
It’s definitely a brave new world and it has gotten me to thinking about what resources are out there to help adolescents analyze and protect their social media output. Sure, they could sign up for Bottlenose and track the trends around their handle and their personal brand, but such services are marketed towards people like me – the digital marketing managers – not adolescents. Where are the start-ups in Silicon Valley dedicated to sniffing out digital bullies and erasing derogatory, bullying posts and tweets? Are there engineers working to build programs that can erase those awful, embarrassing images once teens graduate to adulthood and realize that hiring managers know how to use Google as well? It seems there is quite a market for such services judging by the news coverage. If you know of great tools out there to manage social media output for teens and anyone interested in protecting their personal brand, please leave a comment below. After all, teen years will always be filled with embarrassing moments and kids will be kids, but should teens be judged forever on one embarrassing, overshared moment?