The most frequent topic at the social media workshops I give on behalf of Standing Partnership is the separation of personal and professional. This usually provides and opportunity to point out that PRIVATE and personal are different and there is NO PLACE on the internet for the private. None.
I think Dr. Ruth Westheimer said it best when she tweeted that if you’re going to make a sex tape, get your hair done, smile to the camera, because nothing like that ever stays private, so you might as well look good.
People are very concerned about separating their personal and their professional “selves” — I’ve written about this topic before — and for some, it makes sense to keep Facebook the place where they play and connect with friends, and LinkedIn where they do business and connect with prospects and colleagues. It’s fine, however you want to play it.
As an employee of a corporation (or a nonprofit or an institute of higher learning or a hospital, etc.) you have the POTENTIAL to be an ambassador for that company with your social media engagement. And I’m not talking to the marketers, the development people, the HR folks — I’m talking to YOU. Every single employee has the potential to share the messages of the organization for which you work. You can use social media to position yourself as a more valuable employee. You can be smarter than other staff members because you’re listening to the social web, know what’s being said about the organization and are responding or sharing the opportunities to respond with the organization’s leadership.
This is why I encourage individuals to engage on Twitter using their own name (Gini Dietrich has a great post about this) and photo as opposed to the organization’s name with a logo. Sometimes I’m asked if mutiple people should tweet under an organization logo’d Twitter account and that’s fine, but it’s not an engagement model. People want to develop relationships with other PEOPLE, not logos or a twitter account where it’s unclear who they’re talking to (pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!). Step out from behind that logo curtain, people, and embrace the opportunity to be an ambassador for your workplace.
I can’t tell you how many times this example has been thrown my way, as a challenge to the relevancy and purpose of Twitter.
“I don’t care what you had for breakfast!”
“Why would I care what someone had for breakfast!”
Why breakfast? I wonder.
Of course the people tossing out the Most Important Meal of the Day with the bathwater haven’t experienced Twitter and so, I struggle to find the most polite way to tell them they have no idea what they’re talking about.
Of course Twitter users are tweeting about more than their bagels and schmear or their $5 lattes. But let’s say, for fun, that for a day, everyone on Twitter tweeted their breakfast. Now that would be VERY interesting to those people over at Dunkin Donuts. And to the mom and pop coffee shops in your town. And to Eggo and to the billion dollar breakfast cereal industry. If all those breakfast-interested parties were also on Twitter they could ENGAGE with those Twitter users and ask them why they prefer, say, Bodo’s to Panera, or Mudhouse to Starbucks.
But you don’t really care about what your customers are thinking, saying and doing, huh?
On a personal connection level, say I’m tweeting my breakfast from a local coffee shop and learn that someone I know via Twitter only is there, or on her way there and at last! We will meet! And a friendship that had heretofore only been online, is now in real life and that is why we care what you’re having for breakfast.