Personal vs. Professional Use of Social Media


Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Google+.  MySpace. Friendster. Orkut. Aaah, the wonderful world of social media. Where would we be without any of these? Where would you be? Whatever did we do before they came about? How many of us use these social media outlets on a regular basis, so much to a point where survival would be difficult without their presence? How many of you use these for personal reasons? Professional reasons? Well, Eureka! (No wonder they’re everywhere.) But then again, they do have their disadvantages. How many times have your own personal Facebook or other social media pages came back to cause you to do you some SERIOUS explaining (to those wonderful parents, grandparents, priests, aunts, uncles, school principals, teachers, you get the idea.)

How many people have been fired because of something “inappropriate” or unprofessional, or “illegal” on their Facebook pages? How many employers check out the Facebook pages of prospective employees, just to make sure that “they’re qualified enough”?  Yes, what we think are personal can come right around to bite our professional bottoms. The boundaries between our personal lives and professional lives continue to be meshed together through social media. So, watch what you post on your pages. You NEVER know who’s watching. Okay, that’s obviously creepy. But it’s the truth. It is so hard to keep things private nowadays! Privacy is gone, according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Professionally, the use of social media can have enormously positive (or enormously negative) effects on your organization or company. As an organization in 2012, the powerful force of social media is very difficult to ignore. Nowadays, organizations must have a social media outlet in order to survive.

That is because Customer Satisfaction has changed a lot over the years. For example, issues that could be alleviated through company press releases in the past will not suffice today. As stated by Common Craft, today’s customers want an “honest conversation from someone from the company”, and for that, social media is the way to go.

So, we must change with the times, if we want to survive as an organization. Some organizations have one person that is entirely devoted to organizing and updating their social media sites, and responding to consumers/clients/patients/customers via the organization’s social media outlet. Keeping a social media site up and running is obviously serious business. Having an official social media site or two or three or four or however many your organization chooses can help various facets of the organization, from marketing, to spreading awareness, fundraising, customer satisfaction, etc. BUT, it’s important to have one specific objective for the social media outlet. And the objective can’t be any old objective. It has to be a SMART objective by being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, & Time-Bound, as stated by We Are Media.

I think that it’s kind of funny how things that are totally “in” today were totally “in” back in the day. Like since the beginning of human history. Take the iPad Tablet for example. Didn’t our ancestors use those rock tablets to jot down things when we first started writing as a species? Now look at the all “in” iPad Tablet. It’s like the exact same shape! And social media. Back in the day, word of mouth was the “in” thing. Now, we use social media. I would say that social media is the hyped up, modernized version of word of mouth on steroids. Except that nowadays, instead of our mouths, we use our fingers. Our fingers are the links between our thoughts or what otherwise would be our word of mouth and the keyboard, or the phone keys, or whatever you use to type. I don’t even know anymore, considering how fast everything is updated and innovated.

Social media has enabled people all over the world to connect and network, for personal and professional reasons. Because of Facebook, I can talk to my cousins that are in another continent. THAT is awesome. Personally, I think that privacy is REALLY hard to uphold nowadays, but it’s not impossible. I think privacy is still alive, barely. Social media sites, especially Facebook, have personal settings that allow you to control who gets to see your pictures, status updates, etc., to a certain extent. Because we are more connected through a social web now, information about us has the potential and does spread faster than back in the day when we didn’t have social media to contend with. And as far as having a boundary between our personal and professional selves through social media, I would say that unless you want your seemingly fun and innocent personal photos, statuses, comments, etc. to potentially bite your professional bottoms, to have concrete, non-negotiable rules. One way you can do this is by keeping an intentional method of the friends you accept on a particular social media site. You can have a distinction between your personal and professional self even if you use social media. Ask yourself these questions: Would you prefer this social media outlet to be strictly personal, strictly professional, or a combination of both? You can limit the kinds of friends that you accept based on this decision. For example, if you would like your social media outlet to be strictly personal, then DON’T accept any professional colleagues as friends. If you want your site to be strictly professional, have a preference for professional people like your colleagues and avoid personal friends. If you want to reach a wider audience base, having a combination personal and professional social media site is ideal, but you have to carefully consider the implications of having  both audiences in one place and how that would affect your personal and professional lives. What would happen if one of your personal friends tags you in a post that is “inappropriate” professionally? One way to set clear goals and boundaries with a “combination” social media site is to state the objective of the site at the onset. Let people know what the purpose of the social media site or page is and what rules they must follow if they want to be a contributing member of it.

So, the ever versatile social media outlets can be used for seemingly all of your personal and professional needs. In both areas, social media can be used to express your personal Lava For Life if the site is personal, or your professional Lava For Life, A.K.A. your organization’s objective for having the social media outlet. Here’s to spreading your or your organization’s Lava For Life through social media! (And it’d be even awesomer if both Lavas For Life coincided, wouldn’t it?) I would say that’s a win-win. 😉


One response »

  1. Bincy –
    You tackled the main points and did some reading on your own and took a look at the Commoncraft video. Just a technical hint – when you make a link, highlight the word and make it the link so that you don’t have to put the entire link in the text. So you highlight “click here,” click the link button and then put your url in the window, making the text the link instead of the url. We will talk about it more on Thursday.

    Remember going forward to add some of your thoughts and opinions. Do you think privacy is dead? Can we have a distinction between our personal and professional selves even if we use social media? How might we do it?

    Good Job.

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