Pierre Delecto, we hardly knew ye! The delicious, and somewhat apolitical, news out of Washington, D.C. that Utah Senator Mitt Romney, for some time, had a secret Twitter account under the pseudonym “Pierre Delecto” is instructive for any professional who has deployed a side social media account – people can often find you, and what you have liked or written will be scrutinized.
Secret accounts and code names are not unique to Romney; just ask “Wayne Tracker” a/k/a then ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. These accounts can be innocuous, but they also often contain:
- Hyper-political commentary.
- Follows and likes of “laddy” material, such as accounts for cheerleaders.
This social media activity has appeared on public, masked and quasi-private channels. All begging the question, “Can I just be myself (whomever that really is) on social media?” In short: not really, at least in some regard.
For individuals delivering professional services (e.g., lawyers, accountants, architects and others who bill by the hour), personal reputation – trumps everything (and it could be argued that this is even more pronounced for consultant-types than for business-to-consumer executives.)
But wait you say, “There is nothing wrong with me liking cheerleaders or applauding or chiding a politician!” This is true, fundamentally. But, would you make such comments in a one-on-one meeting with a client? Would you hang a cheerleader swimsuit calendar up in your office? I’m guessing not.
What if my account is masked or private? This is better, but we all, like poker players, have tells. Romney gave a lot of clues, but one of the biggest was that his account followed his family members. (Wait, aren’t we all following Tagg Romney?!?) Following a family member creates a breadcrumb trail: If a sleuth is trying to find you, they search your full name, then your last name. If your family member pops up – particularly your spouse – the searcher checks that person’s followers and can often ferret out a target. And, even private accounts leak some information out.
The bottom line is that you should be able to publicly stand behind all your social media activity and likes.
If you are trying to keep a secret or side social media account, be prepared to own up to it like the Mittster, “C’est moi.” Or, better yet, just don’t do it.