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Business or Pleasure: How do you use social media?

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.

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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?

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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