Social media makes me feel old sometimes. Well, part of the reason is that I am old, but let’s leave that aside. What makes me feel old is the way that I use social media, compared to how everyone else uses it–everyone younger than me, I mean. I use social media for business. Period. Nothing else. Ever. But most people use social media for personal relationships or a mix of business and personal. Not many do what I do. The short-hand way to describe my use of social media might be: Nothing personal.
I think part of this is generational–that’s the feeling old part. I think I grew up in a more private world–one where you kept personal stuff out of your business life, and I admit that I am more comfortable that way. I don’t mind sharing personal things wit business colleagues that I knew well, but I don’t hang everything out there in public.
Part of that might be personality, but part of it is deeper. A major chunk of my personal life ain’t just about me. Even if I wanted to lay my personal life bare, a lot of that wouldn’t be solely my decision anyway. I don’t have the right to put my wife’s life out there in public, and woe the dad that does that to his four teenagers.
We’ve all heard stories of people who have shared inappropriate personal details and lived to regret them. (I’m tired of hearing people scold my teenagers to watch what they say on Facebook–maybe my kids know more about Facebook than they do.) But this isn’t only about doing something dumb, because you can keep your social media life purely business and do something dumb anyway.
No, this is about how you want to portray yourself in social media. It should be perfectly valid for me to share only business tweets, but most people don’t take that approach. It could be that, in time, my approach will fall so out of favor that no one will do it that way. And I have no problem with folks that share way more than I do–I follow them and find them interesting, too.
But I hold back. Part of my reluctance is the same thoughts I have when an actor tells me who to vote for–I might want to watch his movie, but what makes him an expert on government? Similarly, if I tell you about the service in a restaurant, should you care? I’m no expert in restaurants.
So, how do you come down on this? I am an old dog, but maybe I can learn a new trick. Is it valid for me to approach social media on a purely professional basis, or is everyone else doing it right?