Falling On Lurking Ears


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I watched a thriller a few weeks ago where almost the entire movie took place inside a WWII submarine. The sub’s mission had put it dangerously close to hostile waters, and it was being dogged throughout the movie by an enemy ship on the surface.

Several times the sub commander tried a maneuver where they would bring the sub to a complete halt and then would sit silently hoping the enemy ship would cruise by overhead. But being a clever enemy, the ship above would “ping” the ocean depths in an attempt to locate the sub’s exact location. Any movement on the sub, even something as simple as a cough by one of the crew members, could initiate a targeted attack.

A “pinging” episode could happen at any moment, especially when the crew wasn’t paying attention because they were distracted by other catastrophic issues like ghosts and malfunctioning equipment. (I mentioned it was a thriller right?)

I started thinking about how often we participate in social media thinking we are safely ensconced on our submarine, when all the while many other ears are listening in as well.

Are we being too transparent?

As more people flock to different platforms to engage, connect, and debate it’s easy to forget that often these conversations are visible to the entire universe (if the entire universe cared to pay attention). And while the topic isn’t interesting to everyone, it usually is of enough interest to draw lurkers.

Lurkers whose main interest becomes YOU.

At some point along the way you popped up on their radar. It may be a potential customer. It may be a potential sponsor. It may just be someone who has decided on the basis of a single tweet that they like (or don’t like) you.

You are visible.

Often we treat our social media interactions like we are gliding underneath the ocean surface. We think that the only people who know we are there are those that we tell we’re there. But it doesn’t work like that.

As much as we want to be personable and draw people in, there is some wisdom in not being entirely transparent. I think the question becomes are we sharing in an effort to have an engaging and productive interaction, or are we sharing information that really is better left for our spouse and closest friends? If it’s the latter, than taking that offline is a better course of action.

What you risk with the “overshare”

You want to be real and you want to be authentic. We all do, but what you don’t want to do is call into question anything that would tarnish your image as a credible source to your Right People. Here are three things that could be affected if you embark on sharing every detail of your life:

  • Your Competence: Say you enjoy an adult beverage (who doesn’t?). On occasion, you may even overindulge and regret it the next day. If I Google you, I don’t think you want me pulling up a litany of tweets on recent late night binges or other questionable activities. Or worse yet, accompanying pictures of those activites.
  • Your Product Quality: I don’t want to know that you have ever put in any less than your best on the development of any of your products. Talking about burning the midnight oil in an effort to toss together a product on deadline raises a red flag. And I especially don’t want to know it while you are working on a project for me.
  • Your Service: Social media will expose people who are two-faced because they aren’t thinking about who else is listening in on their conversations. You and I have a polite disagreement on our project. Ten minutes later I watch you kvetch about “a client” who is giving you a hard time and giving every detail of the disagreement except my name. Likelihood I will never work with you again? 100%

Social media can be incredible for collaboration and problem solving. It can be an effective forum for debate and to spark creativity. You can reach out and meet people who a few years ago would have been hidden behind geographic barriers. Those no longer exist.

But don’t ruin your chances to build your brand by putting something out there that you would be uncomfortable with everyone reading. Complete transparency has its place, but it’s usually in 1:1 interaction, not in front of the whole world.

Manage your interactions by being conscious of the lurking ears that are out there.

Because they are out there.

Have lurkers ever caught you by surprise?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christy Smith
ThinkBlot Communications
I have over a decade of experience in client account management and satisfaction, and I have helped large organizations develop products strategies that gain maximum buy-in during implementation. In my previous roles, my client portfolio has included Fortune 500 companies in the Financial Services, Healthcare, Retail, IT, and Telecommunications industries.


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