Who Are You Really?

Alter Egos looking at each other in the mirrorI belong to a Facebook Group that concerns itself with technology and business. Recently the issue of mixing business and personal spaces online was raised when the group’s moderator asked the members how much business posting they did on their personal Facebook profiles.

I get it. If you’re a proponent of inbound marketing, you don’t want to impose your business persona or marketing programs on your social graph, and we all see people behaving badly in social spaces, broadcasting their product or service inappropriately. Conversely, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to connect in more meaningful manners in your business space. So the question of what content should be created or curated in each space becomes a matter of concern . It’s not a new problem, and it’s one we discuss in our training all the time, but I think the answer is more evident than we think.

People are multi-dimensional. We all wear many hats. We act differently in different situations , and show different facets of our personality to people depending on our relationship to to them, the situation we are in, and the accepted social patterns of our culture. We interact one way with our parents, and another way with our children. We relate to our superiors at work differently than we do to our peers, and still differently to our subordinates. As salespeople we have one set of behaviors and as buyers we act with disregard to that experience. We are always the same person,but we bring what we perceive as appropriate actions to each space and relationship. Our interaction in the online world is no different.

Let’s talk about Facebook profiles and pages as an example. Facebook profiles are meant to be (according to Facebook’s terms of service ) your personal people, social space. It’s not the place to pitch and sell your product, but that doesn’t mean you need to pretend that you’re unemployed, just that this is not a place for selling or marketing your service or product.

Sometimes, its ok to discuss your business in a social setting, like when you’re asked a business question by a friend or family member, or when you comment about your day or the events that comprise your life. The key here is context as well as content. Your Facebook Page, is a business space however, and bringing business focused content to that space is normal, and accepted.even so, sometimes there is overlap here as well. You might be commenting about a company softball team or picnic, which humanizes your company and shows a deeper truer picture of who you are.

You’re the same person in both spaces, but your interaction should be as different. Think about the difference in how you greet someone  at your home and how you might great them at your office. What would their expectations be about the conversation? Would your demeanor or language change?  The fact that someone visits you at home would not preclude a discussion about your business if they initiated it, nor would you run around the house removing the things that connect you to your company or profession. Nor would you remove your family photos, or souvenirs of your vacation from your office Even for people you know well, your behavior changes in each of those spaces because your experience has taught you what the appropriate norms are in each environment.

In our desire to be mannerly, people disconnect from these well honed offline social skills when they enter the online space. Perhaps it would be better to think of those spaces as if they were physical, and maintain our integrity in the same manner we would there. Still being authentic and true to ourselves on every level, but emphasizing the appropriate facet of our complex existence. Let’s not confuse the issue with sensitivities that may be misguided, either because they make us act to aggressive and pitchy in the social space, or because they make us afraid to be true to who we are and what we do.  Just be who you are, in a true and faithful manner, and your communities will appreciate your contribution.

Simple, don’t you think?

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