Seattle Community

Lindsay Berger
Marketing and writing for websites.
Stillwater, Minnesota
Greatly helpful
8.2
out of 10
35 votes

T.M.I. (Too Much Information.)

Your business called. It said you're over-sharing via social media and scaring away clients in the process.
Written Dec 07, 2009, read 7042 times since then.
Closed_info

 

I’m just going to come straight out and say it: social media is good for business. It’s a chance to connect, develop and nurture relationships, cultivate “expert status,” and grow a successful enterprise.

There’s just one [HUGE] problem. Propriety has been thrown out the window. 

In a sense, a computer is like a security blanket. People say things online that they would never say in real life. You would never share intimate marriage details with a business acquaintance. You wouldn’t call up a client and tell them you’re bored. Just because you feel like you can share anything on the internet doesn’t mean you should. 

If you want to make a good impression online, avoid these common social media pitfalls:

Getting too personal.*

Sometimes, I think people forget that sites like Facebook and Twitter are public. These individuals broadcast information that’s better kept private. Take this recent Tweet from a business colleague: 

“Going to have my yearly pap smear today. Be sure to schedule yours!” 

Really? I don’t know about you, but the last thing I need is a visual of a client or colleague with their legs up in stirrups. 

Even worse than the unflattering mental image is this: the personal information overshadows a larger, more helpful message about women’s health. This status update could have raised awareness and motivated people to set up their own appointments. Instead, it just made everyone cringe.

Don’t get me wrong. Sharing personal information can work for you if it’s done carefully and with purpose. For example: “October is breast cancer awareness month. I know the value of yearly examinations firsthand. Be sure to set-up your appointment today.” 

A general rule? If you wouldn’t stand up in the middle of a networking meeting and announce what you plan to say in your status update, don’t do it. Period. In real life you filter yourself, and you should do the same online. If you don’t, you’ll lose credibility and clients.

*A problem at the other end of the spectrum: being a ghost or social media “lurker.” Get involved or you’ll never get results!

Posting boring updates.* 

I must confess, I’m guilty of writing a boring status update or two. (That’s a conservative estimate.) The problem? These updates insidiously attack your reputation because they don’t help your clients or enhance your brand. 

Common offenders: “I’m bored,” “Going to lunch,” or “Watching T.V.” You get the idea.

These sorts of updates were what made business-owners slow adopters of social media in the first place. Remember the days when we would cry: “Who really cares if I’m drinking coffee or eating oatmeal. My clients don’t need to know that!” Well, we were right: no one cares about this stuff. If you’re now using social media to tell people you’re drinking coffee or eating oatmeal you might want to re-think your online marketing strategy.

Boring updates are usually posted for two reasons.

1. You feel guilty if you don’t post something. (People are following you after all!) 

2. You can’t think of anything clever, inspirational, or informative to say.

The root of these problems is that we don’t have a plan. We sit down to the computer, stare at the blinking cursor and rack our brains for a bright idea. The result? We share the mundane details that no one really cares about.

Instead of wasting 15 minutes every day coming up with “I’m bored,” create an idea folder. Spend two hours a month visiting other blogs, collecting quotes, and writing 30 status updates that help your clients (that’s at least one good update each day). Every time you come across a great idea, throw it in your folder. When you have a fresh source of inspiration, you’ll never write a boring status update again.

*The play-by-play update is a cousin to the boring update. For example, a series of posts like these: “I’m at the coffee shop,” “Just ordered a mocha,” “This mocha is fantastic,” “I’m sipping on the mocha and waiting for Jill,” “Jill just got here!” Refrain from doing this. I beg you.

Being passive-aggressive online.*

While these status updates are often amusing, if you’re an offender in this department you’re probably causing your business irreparable harm.

What am I talking about? Updates like these:

“Why can’t clients be more cooperative?”

“I love it when I get stood up for meetings.”

“It’s fantastic when one of my clients think that they’re my only client.”

Believe it or not, people will figure out who you’re talking about and the situation that led to your update. And, if they don’t figure it out, they’ll worry you’re talking about them. The Facebook news feed is not the best place to vent your frustrations with clients and colleagues. 

When it comes down to it, airing your dirty laundry via social media is just a bad idea. YOU’LL come off as the bad guy: you’ll sound like a whiner instead of a problem-solver, you’ll alienate the people you work with, and future clients will be scared to work with you. (Who wants to live in fear that a future nasty note will be about them?)

*Opposite side of this coin, but just as bad: being outright rude, offensive, or belligerent.

Ultimately, the goal of social media is to grow your business, position yourself as an expert and help your clients. You do all three by providing great information and avoiding the common pitfalls above. 

Learn more about the author, Lindsay Berger.

Comment on this article

  • Logo Apparel & Promotional Products  
Portland, Oregon 
Gary Powell
    Posted by Gary Powell, Portland, Oregon | Dec 07, 2009

    Lindsay, thank you for writing this great article. I totally agree, although I do at times take the liberty to socialize and be playful with some of the "peeps". Professionally, our goal for using social media is to grow our business, position ourselves as experts in our field and to help our clients whenever possible. We also use social media to help others connect professionally, support worthy causes and our local art scene. It's a great medium if used wisely.

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 07, 2009

    Gary: Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my article!

    Yes, I think using social media to enrich relationships (be playful and socialize) is the whole point of networking and the beauty of the medium--lord knows I wouldn't have met you otherwise! Inserting this type of interaction with your more "professional" posts is perfect: it helps people realize that you're a person and get to know you better! I guess something that I might have mentioned in this article was the type of user who ONLY promotes themselves. That's not cool, either!

    I think you pull it off your social media strategy beautifully, though. (I can say this because I follow you.)

    Thank you again for the kind words and insightful feedback, Gary!

  • Brand Consultant 
Phoenix, Arizona 
Ken Peters
    Posted by Ken Peters, Phoenix, Arizona | Dec 08, 2009

    Lindsay,

    I couldn't help but smile to myself reading this. Anybody who has spent a fair amount of time on Twitter knows exactly what you're talking about. I can't believe some of the things I see there.

    Social media is certainly a critical component to any branding strategy. Getting it right can be a boon. Getting it wrong can be a disaster.

    Great advice here. Nice job.

  • Project Manager 
Frederick, Maryland 
Kimba Green
    Posted by Kimba Green, Frederick, Maryland | Dec 08, 2009

    Great article. Love this: "A general rule? If you wouldn’t stand up in the middle of a networking meeting and announce what you plan to say in your status update, don’t do it. Period. In real life you filter yourself, and you should do the same online. If you don’t, you’ll lose credibility and clients." What perfect advice for us all!

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 08, 2009

    Ken: I'm glad I made you smile! Thank you for reading and sharing your insight.

    Kimba: I like that rule too. Because it's so easy to share our thoughts online, we often forget to think before we post. Taking that second or two before writing can really make a difference. Thanks for reading!

  • Freelance Writer 
Ferndale, Washington 
Sandra Rees
    Posted by Sandra Rees, Ferndale, Washington | Dec 09, 2009

    Enjoyed reading your article regarding social media and the importance of being pertinent, but not boring. I know with both Twitter and Facebook it is very easy to write something glib, but as a business owner, it is important to "think before you write." You are creating a presence via your posts, so it is best to make sure they are positive and relevant as you promot yourself and your business.

  • Instigator/Networker 
Eugene, Oregon 
Erin Ely
    Posted by Erin Ely, Eugene, Oregon | Dec 10, 2009

    great article, I especially like this suggestion:

    spend two hours a month visiting other blogs, collecting quotes, and writing 30 status updates that help your clients (that’s at least one good update each day).

    definitely a keeper idea for me. I spend a lot of time on social media.

  • Freelance Copywriter 
Priest River, Idaho 
Marte Cliff
    Posted by Marte Cliff, Priest River, Idaho | Dec 10, 2009

    Great post Lindsay! You see so many extremes on Twitter - and so much of it isn't worth the space on the page.

    Well, some of it is even worse than that. I remember one woman who wrote two posts about needing to make a trip to the bathroom... (but in a little more specific terms.) I un-followed her after reading those posts!

    The most interesting Tweeters, in my opinion, are those who offer a variety of comments about their own work, links to good articles they've read, responses to others, and some good quotes. But I'm prejudiced, because I collect good quotes.

    People really should realize that anything they post on line - OR send in an e-mail - could be seen by the "wrong" person. It could mean losing a job, a client, or even a friendship.

    Common sense would be a good tool to engage before touching fingers to a keyboard.

  • Washington Federal Assistant Manager 
Bellingham, Washington 
Susan Templeton
    Posted by Susan Templeton, Bellingham, Washington | Dec 10, 2009

    Oh how about this one: mentioning you are going to be away from home for two weeks...like inviting a burlar to call!

  • Sc D, PCC, Gestalt Psychotherapist, conference manor owner 
Espoo Finland 
Marianne Borg Hyokki
    Posted by Marianne Borg Hyokki, Espoo Finland | Dec 10, 2009

    Hi Lindsay! I have been uncomfortable with the too intimate or too many daily updates (Facebook) some people do. I think there are two purposes for people to be in Social Media: for friends and spending virtual time and for business. Since I am there for business, I try to post value to clients and others, but do not share all my personal stuff.

    Well written article and your subject is important. Thank you! Best regards,

    Marianne

  • Photo Retoucher 
Evanston, Illinois 
Eric Basir
    Posted by Eric Basir, Evanston, Illinois | Dec 10, 2009

    Excellent article. Playful poetry about things I'm working on or experiencing works for me (very little personal things unless it's "cute."

  • graphic designer 
Alexandria, Virginia 
gerry suchy
    Posted by gerry suchy, Alexandria, Virginia | Dec 10, 2009

    Lindsay,

    Great article! Just spot on with regard to what is so annoying about social media. I often have clients who ask me about a social media presence for their business. They are reluctant to move forward with because they have seen all the drivel that passes for information. "Brain Droppings," to borrow a phrase from Doonesbury. I point out to them that it is certainly possible to have a Twitter,Facebook Business,a blog and a LinkedIn page and keep it professional and focused. This is especially true if you use any of the posting aggregators like PingFM. Your cute little message ends up everywhere at the click of your mouse. It all begins and ends with the owner of the pages. When I first began using social media to promote ny graphic design business I came across a "how to tweet" article. The author closed her piece by telling her readers that if anyone ever told her what they had for lunch she would stop following them. I just concentrate on my own small slice of the universe and advise clients that they can and should do the same.

    Take Care

    Gerry

  • educator 
 London United Kingdom 
Shibley Rahman
    Posted by Shibley Rahman, London United Kingdom | Dec 10, 2009

    Great article.

    Sometimes I think people should remember, "You say it best when you say nothing at all."

    However, I find myself being generous to other people indulging in a bit of self-promotion, provided that they have genuinely worked hard at something, or it's something that they are immensely proud of for personal reasons.

    However, I believe that the issue of keeping business separate from pleasure is a real one. On the one hand, you can argue that clients get to know you better, by understanding what makes you tick. My keenness to talk about disability issues may be as off-putting as another's enthusiasm about the Pap test. On the other hand, it's sometimes appropriate to keep them entirely separate. I find this particularly to be the case when discussing politics.

    Anyway, I digress. I love the article!

  • Sales and Marketing Professional 
Montreal, Quebec Canada 
John  Doble
    Posted by John Doble, Montreal, Quebec Canada | Dec 10, 2009

    Lindsay,

    What a great article with practical tips of what to do and what to avoid in Social Media.

    I really like your take on passive-agressive posts.

    I am a newbie to social media and have been reading as much as I can from the experts. However, your article is the first I've seen with common sense practical tips to succeed in this medium.

    Thanks so much for posting. I will share this link with some of my groups on Linkedin.

    Best Regards John

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Sandra: You're absolutely right: "You are creating a presence via your posts, so it is best to make sure they are positive and relevant as you promot yourself and your business." When you think of social media as an extension of your brand, and not just a way to let people know you're alive, your goal (and hopefully the posts) change for the better. Thanks for your insight!

    Erin: I'm just starting to take my own advice on the time-chunking in preparation for 2010. So far, I've found it to be extremely helpful, AND it rids me of some of the guilt I used to feel for surfing the web. Now, I've set aside time to do that and it's great! Good luck with your efforts as well. :)

    Marte: Great point about the ideal combination of posts: "The most interesting Tweeters, in my opinion, are those who offer a variety of comments about their own work, links to good articles they've read, responses to others, and some good quotes. " I agree, this variety is interesting to me and I love following these people. It's also an important point you mentioned about posts being seen by the wrong people. Again, just another thing to think about before you click "enter." Thank you for reading!

    Susan: Oh my gosh, yes. Things like business trips, when you're leaving the house, etc. Should be kept private. Excellent point!

    Marianne: Thanks for commenting. Trust me, I know what it's like to feel uncomfortable with too intimate posts. Here's a question for you: do you have separate social and business Facebook pages? I'm starting to think I might do this to keep things separate and from subjecting my own clients and colleagues to those "too personal" details.

    Eric: I'm glad you've found a way to keep your posts interesting while branding yourself as the "playful poet" at the same time. I'm going to check that out!

    Gerry: I think it's an excellent idea to use an aggregator like PingFM, it not only saves you time but (like you said) keeps all of your social media pages focused and on-topic. Great points!

    Shibley: Yes, I try to steer clear of politics on any of my social media pages, as well as other "hot topics." Why? Not because I don't have opinions, but because they can so easily overshadow your core message and alienate readers. (Unless you're in the business of politics of course.) As far as getting too personal goes...you're right, it's a fine line. I've found that a blend works: 2/3 business and 1/3 personal/random musings. Thank you for commenting!

  • Freelance Writer 
Venice, Florida 
Deborah Aldridge
    Posted by Deborah Aldridge, Venice, Florida | Dec 10, 2009

    Well, don't follow me, please, because it will save you the trouble of unfollowing me. I actually unfollow people who never do social, banal, personal tweets or posts on FB. When someone follows me, the deciding factor in whether I follow them back is if they have any conversational tweets. To me, social media is just that...SOCIAL. I don't give a rat's a$$ whether a client won't hire me because of my personal life. I'm sure there are a lot of clients whose personal life I wouldn't like too much either, for instance, I have one Twitter follower who is a HUGE Sarah Palin fan, and I can't stand her. I don't unfollow her because of it, and I still buy things from her Etsy store and RT her sales posts.

    This is like saying you won't ever go to another movie with an actor in it whose personal life you don't approve of. I don't approve of John Travolta's involvement in Scientology, but I love his work, and will go see any movie he's in.

    It's people who only think of business online that make Twitter boring, not those of us who actually make ourselves real.

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Deborah: You make a valid and good point: social media IS social. Although this article uses extreme examples to illustrate a point about getting TOO personal, I don't think you should omit your personality out of the equation and only post about business. In fact, I acknowledged this fact in regard to Gary's comments above: "I guess something that I might have mentioned in this article was the type of user who ONLY promotes themselves. That's not cool, either!"

    Also, I think the distinction between a small business owner who works one-on-one with clients as opposed to selling a product is an important one to make. When we buy a product at an Etsy store, we like the product, not necessarily the person who makes it. Most likely, this retailer offers discounts via their social media pages which makes it beneficial to follow her, despite the fact you can't stand her. The satisfaction of buying a product you like outweighs your dislike for her political views. However, when you work one-on-one with people, it's different. The product is the person. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. You build this over time, and certainly not by offending them via social media.

    At the end of the day, how you post depends on your goals for using social networking sites. If it's to be social, great. Share whatever your heart desires. If it's to meet new business connections, I think a level of propriety should be maintained. A lot of the time, you're meeting people for the first time via social media. And, as much as it stinks, first impressions make a difference. This doesn't mean, though, that you have to remove your individual personality from the equation entirely. I just feel that when one posts, they should take a second and ask "do my readers want to know that?" "Is this best reflecting my personality?"

    I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my article.

  • Owner/President 
Chicago, Illinois 
Brad Miller
    Posted by Brad Miller, Chicago, Illinois | Dec 10, 2009

    As a small business owner, my web presence is for professional purposes. I get kinda sad sometimes that I'm missing out on the fun part of the web. On Facebook, I can't share anything political or raunchy. Sure, I share some kid pictures for my family, but nothing too interesting.

    It's good business to stay professional, but it's too bad I can't interact with friends in the casual way.

    Off the subject, but...Your political contributions become public record and always pop up on searches. I've searched clients and contacts by name and seen who they've supported. I would hate to turn off half of my potential clients.

  • economist 
Arlington, Virginia 
Henry Kilpatrick
    Posted by Henry Kilpatrick, Arlington, Virginia | Dec 10, 2009

    You know, you can create more than one account on any of the well-known social media, and you don't necessarily need to use your real name on all of them. And now Facebook is making it easy to control everything you post to any account. It is easier than ever to filter what you write to different groups.

    I tend to be less risk-averse than some, so I might put a few controversial posts or tweets up for all to see, on the theory that I don't care what you say about me as long as you spell my name correctly. But it is a conscious act and my brain is in gear when I do it.

    A few months ago a writer followed me on Twitter and I followed her in return. I noticed she did a presentation at a venue that I am interested in, so I asked her if she could give me the name of a contact person. No reply. A few days later I received a mass direct message from her promoting her book. Like I'm really going to buy it or tell other people about it if she can't be bothered to reply to me? It's a two-way street, and some people forget this. I would rather be offended by an ill-considered post than be exploited by someone who thinks it is all about her/him.

  • Blogger 
Marysville, Washington 
Kimberly Gauthier
    Posted by Kimberly Gauthier, Marysville, Washington | Dec 10, 2009

    I really enjoyed this article. Thanks for posting. I've been thinking the same thing. It's shocking what I see on Facebook. One business owner threatened to egg a clients house for not paying their invoice and then friends jumped on that post with ideas of what else could be done - the client was the business owner's friend and saw all of the posts. She never did get paid.

    And I've unfriended several people who just post ads all day long. What I love about social networking sites is that it's a way to put your personality out there. That's how I've gotten most of my clients (that and festivals). If I just posted links to photography or pet sites, people would drop me pretty quickly.

    Thanks again!!!

  • educator 
 London United Kingdom 
Shibley Rahman
    Posted by Shibley Rahman, London United Kingdom | Dec 10, 2009

    The post by Henry Killpatrick says it all.

    I think the trick of using Facebook or Twitter is to use it as a medium to reach lots of people, without making clients feel used in the process.

    Have a good day everyone.

  • Social Media Strategist, Published Author, Community Manager  
Mountlake Terrace, Washington 
Tracey Warren
    Posted by Tracey Warren, Mountlake Terrace, Washington | Dec 10, 2009

    Loved the article and it made me laugh. I have lately seen how bi-polar some of my friends are through their posts and it has been a huge turn off.

    I use facebook for business and personal use through one account. Lately, I have discovered my favorite feature is "hide". So, if I have friends who post every 5 minutes, or only post overly pushy sales statuses, I just "hide" them. They won't know they are hidden and they will still receive your posts - unless they have done the same to you.

    Thanks again for the article!

  • Virtual Assistant 
Wheaton, Illinois 
Lillian Hoyer
    Posted by Lillian Hoyer, Wheaton, Illinois | Dec 10, 2009

    Hi Lindsay, This is a great article and full of wonderful advice and tips. I've been in the corporate world a long time and social media networking is a challenge for me as I pursue my own business. I would much rather speak to someone in person or over the phone, but social networking sites are the new reality today. I think it is such a challenge for me because I do not possess the gift of writing...and I believe writing a good article such as your's is a gift. Perhaps this is why so many people post items that are not complimentary to them...they don't know how to put their ideas into words. I understand the advantages of starting a blog, writing an article, contributing to the social sites and not lurking (which I am gulty of doing) in order to grow my network and develop relationships for the long term. But I was one of those students that hated English composition. I got A's in spelling and grammar, I was a wiz at dissecting a sentance, but froze whenever I had to compose a story.
    I get the feeling that in order to make it work today, I have to do a lot of blogging and writing. It just seems unrealistic for someone like me that doesn't possess this gift. (I really do like your tip on keeping an idea folder, though.) Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us.

  • Navigating social media and online marketing - in the US and abraod 
San Francisco, California 
Nadja Specht
    Posted by Nadja Specht, San Francisco, California | Dec 10, 2009

    Great article! Everyone can relate to what you are describing. I especially like that you point out that you need to have a plan - at least from a business perspective. The chaotic and unstructured nature of social media oftentimes lures businesses into believing, that any kind of systematic approach is counterproductive. It's completely the opposite! Because of the lack of structure, a business can only use social media successfully when they have clearly mapped out where they are coming from and in which direction they are headed.

    Again - great article with lots of laughs!

  • Hope Director, Artist 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Karin Rush
    Posted by Karin Rush, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Another great article. I agree with you 95% except about my comment on pap smears. I'm generally more gregarious and open than some so I would share that in front of a group of business women. Women AND men neglect their health. Reminding and sharing I follow through with taking care of my health (Tho not enough, I need reminding too) I hope to help people other's health and maybe even save a life. Sorry it's too personal for some but it's worth it to me to help others. Other's help in their own way. This is mine. I've regretted some of my posts but not that one. Keep writing, I enjoy reading your articles. :)

  • Realtor - Cumming, GA 
Cumming, Georgia 
Gayle  Barton (Gail)
    Posted by Gayle Barton (Gail), Cumming, Georgia | Dec 10, 2009

    Very timely article.

    I am sometimes appalled at the things I read or see on a competitor's social site. That includes profile photos. (Having a photo of your husband biting your tongue is not what I’d call professional.)

    Customers often “goggle” a person or a business whose services they are contemplating using, and your social site is often their first introduction to you.

    I recently removed a “friend” who had wanted to link to my facebook page to keep up with my blog. Her site was so scarily inappropriate that I was afraid she might post something questionable to my site making me look “guilty by association” to anyone who saw it before I did.

    Excellent article about a real life topic!

  • content marketing 
Washington, D.C. 
Stella Poppovich
    Posted by Stella Poppovich, Washington, D.C. | Dec 10, 2009

    Amen brother marketer!

    We are saying the same thing at Stella Pop, our clients trust us and our judgement. We see companies and individuals throwing all their years of experience out the window when it comes to social media messaging.

    Check out our post with a similar thread - Twitter Tired at YoStella.com

    Thanks again, stella

  • Marketing Consultant 
Nanuet, New York 
Julie Weishaar
    Posted by Julie Weishaar, Nanuet, New York | Dec 10, 2009

    What a great article - it made me chuckle. I agree 100% but I have a personal preference that is aligned with what is appropriate for business as well. I don't share personal info on social networking sites like facebook unless I want the entire world to see it - because they will! It is therefore easier for me to mix my personal info with my business. However, I do have to admit that i have been guilty of the meaningless posts like "it is freezing" as my facebook status just yesterday LOL. No harm done but in reality, "who cares?" :). I have heard some say that they need to get off of facebook because they are looking for a job and don't want prospective employers to see their statuses and posts. My answer to them has been that they shouldn't be posting anything that is inappropriate or TMI on a global bulletin board anyway. Go figure - what is common sense to some is not to many. Thanks for sharing and consider yourself re-tweeted and bookmarked.

  • Original Art, Designs + Kits 
Fort Walton Beach, Florida 
Dawn Cramer
    Posted by Dawn Cramer, Fort Walton Beach, Florida | Dec 10, 2009

    In my business, it's more about selling your story, than the product itself. I find the "real-peopleness" of Facebook is useful; But you made some great comments about crossing the line, and inspired me to edit a few profiles. so thanks!

  • content marketing 
Washington, D.C. 
Stella Poppovich
    Posted by Stella Poppovich, Washington, D.C. | Dec 10, 2009

    Julie - Your the Best and Thanks for the laugh. Keep up the thoughtful and funny writing.

    We'll be following you too - thanks!

  • copywriter, writer, editor 
Asheville, North Carolina 
Gary James
    Posted by Gary James, Asheville, North Carolina | Dec 10, 2009

    Well, I think I might as well hang it up as I've probably made everyone of these errors. Thanks for the insightful post. Perhaps we really should just have alter egos....and two facebook, social media et al accounts for everything. One where we can be honest and open, and the other face for "business."

  • Regional Manager 
Roanoke, Virginia 
Patrick Plummer
    Posted by Patrick Plummer, Roanoke, Virginia | Dec 10, 2009

    Hi Lindsay, Great article! I agree that it is better to say nothing than say something poorly. Social networking is so valuable that we incorporated it into our email marketing for merchants. Consumers can send info about values to facebook or tweet with just a click. Thanks for your insite.

  • copywriter, writer, editor 
Asheville, North Carolina 
Gary James
    Posted by Gary James, Asheville, North Carolina | Dec 10, 2009

    I do have to say, though, that in some ways those "TMI" posts can be helpful in screening potential embarrassing moment with clients or employers, etc. There are certain businesses or orgs that I have my bias toward (or against), and if my bias happens to come up in heated political and social discussions on facebook or elswhere, and that turns that prospect away before we've even talked, then that saves a lot of problems later on. Thanks for the great piece though. Excellent insight.

  • Information Management Consultant 
Portland, Oregon 
Donna Cohen
    Posted by Donna Cohen, Portland, Oregon | Dec 10, 2009

    On a related note, the UC-San Diego just published a report: How Much Information? 2009 http://hmi.ucsd.edu/pdf/HMI_2009_ConsumerReport_Dec9_2009.pdf

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Brad: It is a balance between business and personal. And it is sad sometimes that you can't share everything. For me, though, it's embarrassing enough to put my foot in my mouth in public. If I did it online, all the worse, because it's recorded forever and ever amen. I did ask this question before, but maybe it's worth asking again: does anyone have personal and business Facebook pages? If so, how is that working?Thank you for reading, Brad!

    Henry: You're absolutely right, it is about relationships. I too "would rather be offended by an ill-considered post than be exploited by someone who thinks it is all about her/him." Also, you mentioned that you post controversial topics CONSCIENTIOUSLY. That's awesome! That's the whole point of this article. Not to censor people (its everyone's right to post whatever they want), but to alert them to the possible consequences of posting without a moment's pause.

    Kimberly: Wow. Blackmail via Facebook. That's extreme! You're right: social media is a way to get your personality out there, and the right balance of business/personality posts works best. (No one wants to hear about business all day, either.) Thank you for reading!

    Shibley: Great point!

  • Centsably Green Educator 
Port Richey, Florida 
Lorian Rivers
    Posted by Lorian Rivers, Port Richey, Florida | Dec 10, 2009

    Thanks for saying it! I can handle with the pap smear post....not a great pic but valuable info. But why on earth does someone need to tweet about having coffee and donuts?

    WHY would I care? Well, if the donuts were amazing, yes. But just because? No.

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Tracey: Thank you for the "hide" tip. I think I'll use it soon! I appreciate your comments!

    Lillian: It's true. Writing is an important skill to have these days, and is becoming especially more important as blogging and article writing become more popular. But, I can tell from your comments that you have a lot of great ideas to share, and the important thing is that you share them. To help you get out there, you can always seek the help of a copywriter or colleague who's especially good with the written word. OR, just stick with the simple, less-wordy social media pieces like participating in Biz-talk here, Twitter, or Facebook. There are ways to get involved in social media without having to write too much. Thank you for your insight!

    Nadja: Yes, a plan is important. AND, once it's complete, you almost automate the social media process and create more time for yourself (and who doesn't need that!). Thanks for sharing!

  • Freelance Writer 
Venice, Florida 
Deborah Aldridge
    Posted by Deborah Aldridge, Venice, Florida | Dec 10, 2009

    Just to clarify (lest someone's feelings are hurt), it's not my follower I can't stand, it's Sarah Palin. I actually like the follower, despite her love of SP.

    There, now I've gone and lost every conservative Christian in the country. Again, don't care.

  • Seattle Printing, Mailing Services, Fulfillment Services 
Bellingham, Washington 
Jess Robinson
    Posted by Jess Robinson, Bellingham, Washington | Dec 10, 2009

    Lindsay, this is a very helpful article. Thanks for posting it. I love the idea of creating an idea folder. What a great way to offer value to our readers. I come across gems worth sharing everyday....your article is going into MY idea folder.

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Karen: Yes, you are more open and gregarious than some (I know that you would, without a doubt share pap smear information in front of a group of women). I do appreciate that you use social media to share this message, are brave enough to share your personal health updates with your followers, and probably remind people to take care of their own health in the process. Sometimes, though, I think we make these types of posts too-personal, so we miss the more important message--that's the point I was trying to make. As a side note, while this was actually not a post of yours I was commenting on, I'm sorry if you took this point personally.

    Gayle: Yikes! Pictures are a whole other topic, but directly related to first-impressions and over-sharing. You're right on point: people Google you before you ever meet them, it's wise to put a good foot forward! Thank you for commenting!

    Stella: Thanks for the thread, I'll check it out!

    Julie: I'm totally guilty of the boring status update as well! (Everyone is.) That's actually what inspired this article in the first place: I realized I wasn't writing the best posts possible and know that I need to step up my game and THINK about what I'm writing. Thank you so much for reading, bookmarking, and retweeting!

  • Marketing Consultant 
Nanuet, New York 
Julie Weishaar
    Posted by Julie Weishaar, Nanuet, New York | Dec 10, 2009

    Lindsay, in case you were wondering, it is sunny here in New York today LOL

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Dawn: Glad I inspired you!

    Gary: Don't hang it up! EVERYONE's made these errors, including myself. Also, I was thinking of an alter-ego, but I didn't know what I'd call it. But, in regard to having separate profiles for everything. I Don't think that being business-minded and being honest/having a personality are mutually exclusive. But, there are some instances, like those Gayle mentioned where a friend or acquaintance posts something on your wall that's not kosher. I'm wondering for this reason, if there should be separate personal and professional social pages. If you're using one page for both, I just think it's wise to reflect before they write, and be aware of the potential outcomes. Thanks for keeping the discussion going!

    Donna: Thank you for the link to that study, I'm going to check it out. Coincidentally, thank you for reading and commenting on my article!

    Lorian: But some doughnuts are THAT good. I've had one. And I confess, if I had one again I'd break my own rules to tweet about it. :)

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Deborah: Right on.

    Jess: Thank you for the kind compliment!

    Ah, Julie: It's a blustery 19 degrees here in MN. And my lips are numb from being outside too long. :)

  • copywriter, writer, editor 
Asheville, North Carolina 
Gary James
    Posted by Gary James, Asheville, North Carolina | Dec 10, 2009

    Thanks, Lindsay. I was truly trying to be glib and sarcastic, but what you wrote is definitely worthy of sharing. I've posted a link via the facebook fan page and my wordpress...I think it's probably one of the best articles on the subject I've seen.

  • Massage Therapist 
Kansas City, Missouri 
Kip Ludwigs
    Posted by Kip Ludwigs, Kansas City, Missouri | Dec 10, 2009

    If it hasn't already been suggested: keep your personal profiles separate from professional profiles. My clients don't need to know my political views, but I do want to discuss these topics with friends. My friends DO want to see my Halloween costume, clients NO. My personal profiles have very strict privacy settings and the number of people I connect with on them is VERY limited. Professional profiles are free game and the content on them is always considered public information.

  • Life, Prosperity, and Small Business Coach. Author. Speaker. Trainer. Singer/Songwriter. 
Seattle, Washington 
Kate Phillips
    Posted by Kate Phillips, Seattle, Washington | Dec 10, 2009

    Excellent article, Lindsay! You really dissected "what's wrong" with a lot of social media communication, and gave us some suggestions how to fix it.

    I do see Deborah's point about wanting to know SOMETHING about the person (or you start wondering if it's a VA doing the posts?) And one time when getting "personal" seems to work well (and everyone is doing it) is on or around a holiday. I think it can be a nice "connector" to take a break from "work" and share common experiences of Fourth of July fireworks or Thanksgiving turkey or send Happy Mother's Day or New Year's Wishes.

  • Feng Shui Consultant, New York City 
Brooklyn, New York 
Ann Bingley Gallops
    Posted by Ann Bingley Gallops, Brooklyn, New York | Dec 10, 2009

    Thanks for this excellent article, Lindsay. You've generated so many comments that I've actually learned as much from the replies -- and your replies TO the replies -- as I have from the post itself :) You're setting a great example of how to be social in social media -- thanks!

  • Business Owner 
Seattle, Washington 
Heather Carder
    Posted by Heather Carder, Seattle, Washington | Dec 10, 2009

    Hi Lindsay - This is such great advice, as prior to twitter and facebook (etc) I worked with colleagues who chose to air their personal laundry in person as a way to break the ice (high-tech sales, no less!) I always thought that this shifted the authority and professionalism against them, even though some of the buyers we called on seemed to enjoy the banter. I never was comfortable engaging in this type of representation, because at the end of the day I wanted them to remember what product and services I was offering, not the fight I had with my boyfriend the night before. Thanks for a great article!

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Gary: I know you were being sarcastic! But, through your sarcasm you raised an excellent point: some people truly do feel like they need to hide themselves when they're being "professional." I just wanted to take the opportunity to clarify my thinking a bit. :) Also, thank you for your compliments and for posting my article to your pages: I appreciate it!

    Kip: Excellent points and a great recommendation! Thank you for your insight.

  • Massage Therapist 
Kansas City, Missouri 
Kip Ludwigs
    Posted by Kip Ludwigs, Kansas City, Missouri | Dec 10, 2009

    o

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Kate: Yes, I totally agree. Sometimes I wonder how many people I follow have VA's! Also, I do agree that too much business can also be a negative. Here's what I wrote to Gary Powell above: "Inserting [personal] interaction with your more "professional" posts is perfect: it helps people realize that you're a person and get to know you better! I guess something that I might have mentioned in this article was the type of user who ONLY promotes themselves. That's not cool, either!" Great ideas on when to connect in a more personal way (like the holidays), when we find common ground with our business associates, our relationships become deeper and more fulfilling. Thank you Kate!

    Ann: Thank you so much for reading not only my article, but all the comments as well. (There's a lot of discussion happening--you're a trooper!)

    Heather: I think you make an excellent point. Before we post (or banter), we should think about how we want to be remembered. Nice! Thank you for commenting.

  • Hope Director, Artist 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Karin Rush
    Posted by Karin Rush, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Lindsay: Great discussion. Social media is such a baby... it's going to take awhile (along with cell phone etiquette) to learn what is acceptable. As will most things people disagree (makes life more interesting) however I'm thankful for discussions like this. People do forget who is and COULD read their entries. I've heard from several employers who turned people away because of their posts. (FYI no worries, didn't take offense at all. :)

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 10, 2009

    Karin: You're right, social media is still in it's infancy and is growing exponentially! Everyone's getting their bearings and discussions like these help everyone grow and learn. I've heard of people losing jobs because of posts, too. It's really a reminder to be aware that anyone could be reading entries, not just your "friends" or "network." Thank you!

  • Business Coach/Life Coach 
Bellingham, Washington 
Nancy Grant
    Posted by Nancy Grant, Bellingham, Washington | Dec 10, 2009

    Loved your article Lindsay. Thanks for the reminder that we do need to be mindful of what we say online. It's truly a balancing act between letting people know us and being inappropriate or boring. I've certainly been there with not knowing what to say and you're right... it is about not having a plan for this activity.

    I especially liked your advice about not saying anything you wouldn't say in a networking group. It's an easy to remember tip.

  • content marketing 
Washington, D.C. 
Stella Poppovich
    Posted by Stella Poppovich, Washington, D.C. | Dec 10, 2009

    Can I put an excerpt with a link to this article at my blog - YoStella? thanks, stella

  • Dental Office Business Mgr 
Bellevue, Washington 
Gil Pauley
    Posted by Gil Pauley, Bellevue, Washington | Dec 11, 2009

    Lindsay,

    Good article!! I get so tired of people on Twitter talking about what they ate for lunch, and other small talk that probably their closest friend could care less about.

    Also, I think Tiger should have read this article before he started leaving text messages on all his girl friends' phones--how stupid was he??!! He should have said nothing or maybe just breathed heavy into a phone somewhere.

    Gil Pauley

  • President 
Delavan, Wisconsin 
Matthew B. Olson
    Posted by Matthew B. Olson, Delavan, Wisconsin | Dec 11, 2009

    Lindsay, wonderful read!

    Kip mentioned this earlier, but I wanted to echo the whole "voice" concept. We've been discussing this a lot with clients.

    You have a "personal" voice and a "brand" voice. The two should be kept separate, but that doesn't mean your "brand" voice should lack any of the passion or personality of your "personal" voice.

    A lot of it will depend on your business' culture and personality. While we all like some animus in our social media, we need to remember to pump out signal and not noise.

    "Cuts heal, bones mend, but your social media entry is forever"

  • Certified REO listing agent 
Tucson, Arizona 
Linda Landry
    Posted by Linda Landry, Tucson, Arizona | Dec 11, 2009

    My fave status updates from others are motivational quotes or positive thoughts and newsworthy events regarding their business.

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 11, 2009

    Nancy: Thank you for reading and commenting. You're right, it is all about balance. I think when you have a plan, it's easier to create a balance between personal/personality and "business" updates!

    Stella: Sure, you can post an excerpt with a link to this article! Thank you for the residual exposure, I truly appreciate that!

    Gil: Wow, yes Tiger could have probably used some of this advice in regard to text messages, you're right. Too funny! Thank you for reading and making me smile.

    Matthew: You're right, the "voice" you use in brand communication does need to reflect your business' culture AND I think it's worth mentioning: it should appeal to your ideal client. Great points about pumping out a signal, that a brand voice doesn't have to lack personality and passion, and great quote at the end of your comment: "Cuts heal, bones mend, but your social media entry is forever." I think that one is going up on the wall next to my computer! Thanks Matthew, your insight is great.

    Linda: I love motivational quotes too, they're an instant pick-me-up. Thank you for reading and sharing!

  • educator 
 London United Kingdom 
Shibley Rahman
    Posted by Shibley Rahman, London United Kingdom | Dec 11, 2009

    Lindsay,

    I am wary of being frightened to post dodgy remarks in case they're read by employers, but I think that such self-monitoring is especially important for the responsibility that comes with certain jobs. I think that this should be borne in mind, as it's difficult to remedy when you've pressed the "post" button. Comments are often archived even if officially deleted. But if these comments are likely to cause problems for potential employers, on principle maybe they should be tolerated by real 'friends' too? That's where the aforementioned 'hide' button may come in useful......

  • writer, coach 
Sanford, Florida 
Roxana Nunez
    Posted by Roxana Nunez, Sanford, Florida | Dec 11, 2009

    I am really glad to see this post because I often talk about this with my daughter and her friends. They have the bad habit of using offensive language and making rude comments on their facebook and myspace profiles. They also have their settings on public so that the whole world can see it. I keep telling them that a future employer might not find their "quirky" attitude funny.

    I am very careful of everything I have on the internet period. You never know when an email will "accidentally" become public or when your snazzy comment will offend some sensibility. It is not a matter of being politically correct. It is a matter of protecting your brand, which in many entrepreneur cases, happens to be YOU. Great advice.

  • Cheating Death by PowerPoint 
Hubbardston, Massachusetts 
Laura Foley
    Posted by Laura Foley, Hubbardston, Massachusetts | Dec 11, 2009

    Lindsay, I totally agree with you. On Twitter and LinkedIn, which I use primarily for business, I usually post one tweet a day. My postings relate to helpful design and marketing tips or are reactions to what went on at networking meetings. I've always hated the up-to-the second kind of tweets. Who cares?

    I am very careful in my Facebook posts not to trash talk anybody or divulge too much information because I realize that it's all public. Although I use it primarily for personal reasons, someday, somehow one of my past or future clients will read my posts. I don't want to be known as the chronic complainer who vents and complains to the whole world via my computer!

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 11, 2009

    Shibley: You're absolutely right! Thank you for your continued contributions to the discussion.

    Roxana: It's funny that you mention this. I was having a discussion about this topic with a friend today, and she said she was glad that Facebook wasn't around when she was a teenager because it would have gotten her in trouble. Another thing to consider (if you have teenage children) is that college admissions officers are checking out social media pages on potential students. Also, great reminder that as entrepreneurs, we need to protect our brand, which as you pointed out, is ourselves. Thanks for reading Roxane!

    Laura: Great point. Although you don't use Facebook for business now, maybe you will. And, even if you don't, there's always the possibility that a client could read your posts! You touch on a question we should ask ourselves before posting: "who do we want to be known as?" Thanks for your comment!

  • Marketing Consultant 
Nanuet, New York 
Julie Weishaar
    Posted by Julie Weishaar, Nanuet, New York | Dec 11, 2009

    Regarding our teenage children, what they post and what they shouldn't post, I couldn't agree more. My teenager daughter has more facebook "friends" than all of the people I have ever met in my lifetime! I often tease her about her 1500+ "closest friends" - but she doesn't think it is funny :) Given the concerns of colleges seeing their profiles and statuses, many of these same teenagers are changing their names - often. Not sure if this will help to keep them somewhat anonymous but it sure keeps me guessing who the heck is who :)

  • Professional Organizer 
Missouri City, Texas 
Lisa Giesler
    Posted by Lisa Giesler, Missouri City, Texas | Dec 12, 2009

    great and practicle article! I posted it to my twitter

  • Practical Marketing Expert, Business Lifestyle Architect, Speaker, Author 
Seattle, Washington 
Stacy Karacostas
    Posted by Stacy Karacostas, Seattle, Washington | Dec 12, 2009

    Hi Lindsay, Thanks so much for putting into very entertaining words some things that should be common sense, yet clearly need to be stated. I have SO many clients and people at my workshops ask what they should tweet about and I give very similar advice.

    In my own marketing, I do like to share some personal info --particular about my outdoor sports and adventures-- as it lets people get to know me. And I do occasionally share the more mundane insight if I can do it in an interesting way and I think others will connect with it. But the rest of the time I offer helpful marketing info.

    And I'd rather not tweet at all than tweet about nothing. That said, I'll be tweeting about your article for sure!

    Happy Friday! Stacy

    Stacy Karacostas Practical Marketing Expert http://www.marketing-junkie.com

  • administrator 
lagos, lagos Nigeria 
dare olubanwo
    Posted by dare olubanwo, lagos, lagos Nigeria | Dec 12, 2009

    Have enjoyed all comments and the article too.

    Social networking sites are good for promotions,but useers needs to be more careful with informations and profiles shared. Dare Olubanwo http://9jakonnect.com/international-updates/

  • Insurance 
Gueph, Ontario Canada 
Jordan Kovats
    Posted by Jordan Kovats, Gueph, Ontario Canada | Dec 14, 2009

    It's a fine line between posting the mundane update, and posting for the sake of posting. I agree though, we all must be able to find something about what we do each day that is beneficial for our clients and prospective clients.

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 14, 2009

    Julie: I don't know if I'd be able to keep track of that many "aliases," I have a tough enough time keeping track of all my user names and passwords as it is!

    Lisa: Thanks for the compliment and posting the article to your Twitter page! I appreciate it.

    Stacy: I think you bring up a good point--it's awesome to post a mundane post if you can do it in an interesting way. This is exactly what comedians do: take something everyone can relate to and make it funny (even if it's not an exactly "exciting" topic). If the post causes someone to smile, laugh, or pause and think for a minute, it's a good post. Plus, like many readers have brought up so far, it's not exactly interesting to only read business-related posts either! I think your mix of business, mundane, and personal is great! Thank you so much for reading and your thoughtful feedback!

    Dare: You're right, people do need to be more careful! Thank you for your comment.

    Jordan: I agree, it is a fine line. And, like Stacy brought up a great point: a mundane topic doesn't necessarily mean a boring post. If we can talk about things in an interesting way, we're sharing something of value and giving clients/prospects insight into who we are as individuals. Thank you for reading and your insight!

  • Decks, Gutters & General Contractor 
Sedro Woolley, Washington 
Dan Estabrook
    Posted by Dan Estabrook, Sedro Woolley, Washington | Dec 15, 2009

    Hi Lindsay,

    Thanks for writing this article. I got some good tips and reading all the comments is a great help also. I have just started the Twitter thing and never really know quite what to say. I am going to use your idea folder. Thanks.

    Angel Perry www.americandreamhomecenter.net

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 16, 2009

    Hi Angel: I'm glad you liked the idea of an "idea folder." I hope it helps as you begin to navigate Twitter. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  • Public relations consultant/ghostwriter 
Granby, Massachusetts 
Jeanne Yocum
    Posted by Jeanne Yocum, Granby, Massachusetts | Dec 17, 2009

    One of my Facebook "friends" let us know, without actually using the word, that he had a vasectomy this morning! Talk about TMI! I know the guy but just barely and this was a private detail I didn't need to know about, for sure.

    Thanks for an excellent article.

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Dec 20, 2009

    Jeanne: Wow. Sometimes TMI messages just make the reader feel awkward! Thank you so much for reading my article and for sharing your experience!

  • Fire & Water Damage Response 24/7/365, Sewage Cleanup, Mold Remediation, Carpet Cleaning 
Everett, Washington 
Patrick Kelley
    Posted by Patrick Kelley, Everett, Washington | Dec 26, 2009

    You're all so smart....and I'm so old....there's really nothing I can add to this wonderful knowledge flowing here. With all the problems this nation is faced with....you guys could surely fix a lot of them.........Please!...Pretty Please!

    P.S. Could you look in your trash can and find some marketing copy that you didn't finish because it wasn't good, and send it to me....I have a hard time sleeping.

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Jan 02, 2010

    Hi Patrick,

    Thank you for reading my article and for taking the time to comment!

    I think you're right: there are so many wise and insightful people here on Biznik, surely we can work together to improve some things...

    I'll look through my trash can and see what I can find! :)

    All the best, Lindsay

  • Office Consultant & Organizing Coach 
Marysville, Washington 
Nancy LaMont
    Posted by Nancy LaMont, Marysville, Washington | Apr 07, 2010

    Thanks Lindsay for an article that should be posted at every computer desk.

  • Marketing and writing for websites. 
Stillwater, Minnesota 
Lindsay Berger
    Posted by Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, Minnesota | Apr 07, 2010

    Hi Nancy, If you put this article by your computer, I would feel honored. Thanks so much for the compliment and for reading!

    All the best, Lindsay

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