Those of us who use social media tools at work will appreciate a feature story in yesterday's Crain's Chicago Business about the collisions at the intersection of users' business and personal lives. The story, "Mistaken identities," by Lisa Bertagnoli, gives eight examples of how Chicago-area managers reacted when they realized that messages they posted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare could have implications in their business and personal lives. "A social-media user's business and private personalities can clash online," Bertagnoli writes. "Personal opinions, on anything from religion to a brand, can rile employers. And too much business news can irk friends, who expect personal gossip and photos, not a steady stream of corporate PR, from social media." The managers she interviewed are using a variety of strategies to deal with the business vs. private issue. Some have multiple social media accounts, targeted for either business or friends -- with no overlap. Others have only personal accounts where they avoid any business issues. In a few cases, the managers decided that their business and private personas are indistinguishable. It's an interesting issue. For those just getting familiar with social media, keep in mind that sometimes lines can by blurry. For example, if you have a personal Facebook account, and a close business colleague wants to "friend" you, how do you react? How about if the "friend" is a customer? Likewise for Twitter: If you find that customers, colleagues or competitors are following your personal feed, how should you react? When is it considered OK to block them? I'm not surprised that Bertagnoli found so many managers handling these issues so differently. Especially in the business-to-business arena, applications for social media are still pretty new, and the "best practices" rules are waiting to be written.
Business and personal collide in social media
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