Mixing pleasure and business online

Thursday, 21 April 2011, 14:32 | Category : General
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As a small business owner in the PR industry I find that my social networks are a curious mix of characters. While I’ve managed to keep LinkedIn mainly for business, my facebook is made up of people I went to uni with, the people I’m closest to and see all the time, complemented by a motley crew (no offense!) of work friends and colleagues. As The PR Network we are on Twitter but to date have spent much more time following than tweeting. That’s going to change now as we have lots to say and time to say it.

The problem I have, particularly with facebook, is that in ‘real life’ I talk about different things to different people. I tell my family about my son’s antics, my friends about domestic dramas and my work mates about – well, stuff to do with work. I don’t think these various ‘audiences’ are going to be that interested in everything I have to say. Certainly I see (male) work contacts’ eyes glaze over if I mention childcare, whereas my working mum friends love nothing more than sharing tales of juggling work and home. And I don’t really want to publish details of my social life to people who I meet for business (not that it’s that exciting!). When it comes to photos, I’d prefer never the twain to meet. So I’m not really sure what I should be posting on facebook – should I skew it towards my real friends and talk about the school run and my last night out with the girls?Or be conscious of the workmates contingent and keep it from getting too personal? It’s a dilemma, albeit of the navel-gazing variety.

I also think that we present different personas depending on who we are with, often subconsciously. With the lines becoming so blurred between our personal and professional personas, is there a danger that we could compromise ourselves by exposing too much online? By broadcasting where we are going, who we are meeting, what we are watching and what we’re worrying about, we are giving away clues to how we tick. While we have a choice about who is in our networks, at the moment at least there’s no easy way to filter and sort our updates/announcements/tweets. For me that means I usually say nothing at all. Which as those who know me well over in the real world, just isn’t me!

To look at this from the opposite perspective, do we think we really know people from their online broadcasts, or is it the Internet equivalent of putting on your make-up? The jury is out, but I remain unconvinced that it’s a good idea to ‘over share’. You never really know how you come across, and we all have a reputation to protect – both personal and professional.


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