What are the pros and cons of mixing business and pleasure on social media sites? More people than you might think struggle with this question.
Should you mix business contacts with friends?
Should you talk about your hobbies? To what extent?
What about when personal issues arise – and you have to disappear to deal with them – should you feel obliged to tell your audience? Should you continually update them? Should you share the details of your personal life? What about relationships, your beliefs, the stuff that makes us individual? What about “friends” and “followers” sharing personal stuff from your profile?
Smile – you’re in the social media spotlight!
The Social Media landscape and its demands for sharing has pushed many of us into living our personal lives out in public. Many of us, though, still opt to keep our personal lives private rather than letting them become too enmeshed with our business profiles. But does this hurt or harm our business?
On most social networking sites – and I am thinking of Twitter and LinkedIn in particular – it is easy to decide whether to be business oriented or more personal. On Twitter you can have both a business and a personal account and decide what which to use. Facebook with the increasingly blurring lines of who is a “friend” and it’s drive to get companies to use the platform presents more of a dilemma. Hence the oft-asked question – “Should I connect with a client or a boss if they invite me on Facebook?”
We will look at the pros and cons in part 2 of this article, for the moment I thought I would share how I myself manage what can be a tricky area for some. (The answer to the above question by the way is “Client – Only if want to, boss – no.”)
My overall approach to social networking is simple
Separation of the profiles works for me. My personal life isn’t anyone’s business unless I want to make it so, and neither is anyone’s mine unless they choose to make it so. At the same time to use Facebook’s personal profiles you have to share something of your personal self – the question is: how much? As far as sites are concerned:
Linked In– is purely professional and business. However some of my Facebook friends are also Linked In connections.
Twitter – is almost all business, but with a bit of personality as and when, particularly in conversations. I rarely tweet personal stuff because I don’t really know everyone I am following.
Facebook – is my personal profile. I share business insights if I think they will be interesting/helpful to my friends. As many of my friends happen to be entrepreneurs, it works. Here I share my thoughts, updates and hobbies as well as some things about what’s going on in my life. Of all my social networks, it’s the place to be more relaxed, yet still professional because I do have some business contacts on Facebook too. Needless to say I have set my privacy settings accordingly, though always in the back of my mind is the adage – nothing is necessarily private. Be careful what you say – and what you update.
Connecting and sharing
I am fairly particular about whom I connect with on Facebook. When people from a purely business context want to connect with me as a “friend” I tend to invite them to connect with me on Linked In instead.
I don’t accept every Facebook invitation to connect, partly because I have no wish to start censoring my personal updates on my profile because of whom I’ve connected to. I also de-friend if the need arises (happily it’s only happened a couple of times). On the odd occasion that I do respond to a purely business connection request I almost always message the person and tell them it’s my personal profile and I operate it as such and that they might like to connect with me on Linked In and follow me on Twitter.
Not that anything on my personal profile is unprofessional… just a different aspect of me that’s not up for any one and everyone. The flip side of this, of course is that I am hardly going to grow a mighty list of 1,000+ friends. But since I don’t believe you can have thousands of friends I can’t say it really bothers me.
Where’s the Page?
Given the growing reach of Facebook, (more than 300 million users at last count). I do have a Facebook Page for my business. But as with anything, pages take time to grow, they need attention, time and effort to make them effective. Facebook Pages are great marketing tools I am yet to use fully, but they are a relative pain to find on the site.
I’ve included this detail because I know that many people worry about the risks of mixing business and pleasure on social media sites and many still do not make use of the privacy settings that can help you manage your profiles. So this article may give some ideas. If it does, please share for others.
I have been quite strategic about my social networking approach and that has helped me keep some perspective on the mixing business with pleasure angle.
I believe you need to take a long term view from a business perspective and weigh up the pros, cons and risks of mixing your personal life with your business social media profile, then do what feels comfortable to you – not what someone else says. It is a balancing act.
With so many social networking sites it isn’t difficult to find a balance that works for you, but it also isn’t hard to simply miss this until it’s too late and something’s happened.
Part 2 – The Pros and Cons of mixing business with pleasure on social media networking sites.