the case for stirring some personality into your (or your organization’s) social media recipe.
personal vs professional: online tug-of-war
there is a widely held belief that your online identity should be siloed or compartmentalized. the mainstream media is filled with cautionary tales and statistics about how that picture from the office party/high school prom/wet tshirt contest can, um, pop up again at an inopportune time and cost you the job/the relationship/some random thing you want really badly.
I was, until fairly recently, in this camp. my business-type contacts got my linkedin address, maybe the twitter handle. aside from occasionally doing an alumni search and adding friends that way, I didn’t really promote my facebook self. not that I had stuff to hide; I just didn’t think there was anything in my ‘personal life’ self of any interest to people with whom I was doing (or trying to do) business.
to know you is to love you
a day or so after a networking event, I received a tweet from someone I’d met there. “I couldn’t find you on Facebook – do you use it?” I replied that while yes, I did have a Facebook page, I didn’t generally give it out. “Oh, too bad – Facebook is how I get to know people,” he said. at first I was a little taken aback. What could someone want to know about me that wasn’t covered in my linkedin profile? but I started to think about it and a light went on. the true power of social media is in affinity.
the old saying “opposites attract” may be true in romance, but great salespeople know most friendships and business relationships wax and wane on commonality. businesses and organizations (more specifically, the individuals within them) can share professional affiliations, geography, or complementary offerings. friends can have far more in common – hobbies, team allegiances, political views, etc. social media can expand your professional relationships by adding a personal touch.
the credit card companies figured this out a while back with affinity cards for every possible interest. what I’m talking about is slightly different. in using an affinity card or product, you are declaring yourself a member of that group. using your ducks unlimited card doesn’t necessarily make you feel closer to the ducks. leveraging affinity in a social media context does bring people closer. say, for example, you are an account exec for a marketing agency. you have a contact at a potential client that you met at the ama convention last year. you are connected on linkedin, belong to a few of the same groups there as well. some commonality, and maybe an angle to try to develop a closer relationship.
now, add a facebook connection to the mix. hey – he breeds corgis too! or, she collects hummel figurines, what do you know?! the personal connection makes that closer relationship far easier to achieve. it can even lead to heightened credibility. the personal bond bleeds over into the professional relationship, even if the focus of that personal bond is completely unrelated. in a competitive situation, that closer relationship can mean you get the nod over someone equally qualified .
get this party started
the phenomenon is equally applicable in the non-profit world, as beth kanter notes in her blog post about balancing the personal and the professional. your customers, or your strategic partners – and yes, prospective employers – want to see the personality behind the persona, corporate or otherwise. if you are concerned about tales or, god forbid, images of you in your wild years surfacing, a quick review of my post on using facebook’s privacy settings will help. the walls are (coming) down – and that can be a great thing if you manage it properly.
what do you think? keep it in the closet or let your freak flag fly? share in the comments!