This is a guest blog posting, filed by a career-long friend of mine, Nancy Pattarini, President & CEO, Paige Marketing Communications Group, Inc. The Indium Corporation and The Paige Group have been doing B2B Marcom business together for about 30 years (longer than I've been at Indium, ~26 years). Whenever I have questions I turn to them for their sound advice. This issue is no different. Here are Nancy's thoughts:
Q: Should one maintain separate personal and professional identities in the social media environment?
Nancy: After study, discussions with colleagues, working on a few client initiatives, and an initial personal experiment, I’m convinced that separate identities are a must. And it is best captured in Rick Short’s own philosophy – "begin at the end". If one starts with the premise that our first responsibility is protecting and advancing the corporate brand, then we must avoid any blurring or distraction and create every possible opportunity to promote a unique value proposition and point of view.
Social media is just the latest of many cluttered environments that marketing communications professionals have wrestled with for decades.
Except trickier. Here are certain truths I ascribe to:
- People who say social media is not a proper environment for corporate communication are wrong. No business has the luxury of ignoring new avenues.
- Social media is the (latest) toughest environment for a business to apply properly because it started at the personal level. (A colleague of mine aptly refers to Social Media as “So Me.”)
When we mix personal and corporate identities in, for example, one Facebook account, I think the corporate info can enhance the personal profile but the personal can distract from the corporate. And I don’t mean just the things we choose to post about ourselves.
My experiment was to start a Facebook page with content that was entirely business-oriented with the goal of carefully friending and networking to keep the focus where I wanted it. But, true to the roots of social media, I’ve been getting deluged with family, friends and tons of network-seekers who (respectfully) have little relevance to my goal for a Facebook business presence. So, I’m in the process of setting up a separate personal account and am advising my clients to do same. I will have to gracefully transfer some family members and a few others and then commit to managing it, as Rick points out in his commentary.
To sum, businesses should not be afraid to wade into the waters, but a good social media strategy will have a specific, intentional goal and communication plan. I think it’s an exciting challenge to our ability as communications experts to manage our brand.