The Two Face Dilemma with Social Media

I came upon a really timely and interesting blog entry yesterday, because it is something that impacts me and I am sure some of you as well. With social media being everywhere, including in business, one has to seriously think about the identities which one has online and how it impacts your professional and personal lives. I blogged on this already but felt a need to "wheel and come again". Most people would have started off with a personal Facebook profile or a personal blog. That's how I started. Then companies started getting involved in social media and the landscape changed from being just about "me" and more about "us", and especially in a case where you are actively involved or recognised professionally, your social media profiles probably need a review. Not only that, but there is greater convergence of the personal and professional.

I have several social media identities, between work and play-

  • Blogs - this one is more professional while I have others, which are more personal in nature
  • Twitter - a healthy balance of the two
  • LinkedIn - I don't know if there is any other way to use LinkedIn other than personal branding for business and professional networking
  • Flickr/Photobucket - personal
  • Facebook - my profile here is strictly personal

But here is the rub. I also manage a few professional profiles on YouTube, Flickr and of course, Facebook. Before pages came along, one had groups and if any of you have a group, you would know that when you send messages to your members, regardless of the name of the group, your personal profile photo and your name go out with the message. I cannot tell you (though my friends would know cause I complain about it enough) how many people I do not know personally, but whom I would probably interact with via my groups' activities, send me friend requests. Some may want to keep me close as a company insider for when they want assistance and some may just want a date, which sadly seems to be the usual reason. Not only that, but you have to then be mindful of the photo you have up. Can you imagine getting a message from an organisation you're following and the admin's photo is of him/her in a bikini/speedo, with a beer bong, and a spliff? How would that inspire you?

Now while I support networking and social media for business especially should heartily support interaction, am I willing to let customers and interested persons into my personal space? I say, without hesitation, no. With pages, I now can interact with customers from a strictly corporate profile which keeps the lines firmly in place and you can still contact me directly.

My personal spaces are for personal things. I don't want to share my vacation photos, my notes, my status updates about all my craziness with people I do not know personally. And you do continue to meet people in the course of doing business and they may want to "friend" you on Facebook, but those relationships are also different to the ones I have with the people who are my friends on Facebook. So do I have a professional Facebook page, for this purpose - without personal family photos, videos and the like? Do I ask you to become a Fan of my professional Page? Sure I think I am awesome but the word "fan" has this connotation and I am not that vain to think I am SO popular or SO interesting that I would attract "fans".

This is not to say that I would not become friends with people I form virtual relationships with. Not at all. I think social media allows for rich interactions which you may not have via the traditional channels. I DO have people I have met through work on my profile - once I have developed that relationship with them. I DO sometimes share stuff that is non-work related on my blog or in my not so personal spaces. And at the same time, I DO harness my personal profile for work sometimes, by sharing work stuff, asking for feedback or running ideas past them (and many thanks to my fab friends for being so supportive). So where does one draw the line then?

I try now to use what I have to network professionally. So LinkedIn and Twitter work for me right now and I have had great interactions there thus far.. My Facebook, let me say it right now, is off limits for people I do not know personally, or even people I work with. I do not subsrcibe to mixing my professional life with my personal life. And my Facebook profile is still not half as bad as some of the profiles I know are out there - with sexy profile photos, status updates about their sex lives and fetishes etc - and which are open and welcoming to colleagues, suppliers, bosses. Do you want to update your profile, which your boss has access to, saying that you're in Tobago when you called in sick that day? Scary stuff, man. I see some things sometimes and cringe. Not only that but I know of people who have unwittingly lost a chance at a job or a business opportunity because of stuff on their personal profiles, which they have opened to the masses.

But it's just different. Your personal voice and your corporate voice. Your personal profile and your corporate profile. Different but not separate. They still, I think are interwoven, especially if you are a marketer who really forms great, personal relationships with clients. Customers rarely want an autobot, do they? But as social media continues to permeate our lives, the lines will continue to get more and more blurred. You just have to decide where, when and IF you want to draw hard lines of demarcation.


SanMan said...

excellent as usual... i found it difficult to keep them totally separate and even tho i dont use my real name... anymore... it isnt a secret either...

once we realise that its still us and we are responsible for our/their branding it will be alright...

trinidarlin said...

I am really challenged by the Facebook requests because I have become so closely associated with the company's profile and have had rich interactions with some customers. But the friend requests from some of them - I have no choice but to ignore them.

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