Remember Goldilocks and the Three Bears? In the classic fairy tale, a little golden-haired girl stumbles upon a cottage in the woods. Finding no one home, she lets herself into the house—the home of the Three Bears. Goldilocks skips through the rooms, testing and tasting the Bears’ possessions until she discovers the furniture and food that suit her “just right.”
Is your social media sharing “just right?”
As a business owner using social media, you can take a lesson from Goldilocks. Online, community building is about sharing a balance of personal and professional information. A mixed bag of tweets, updates and posts that interweaves the friendly, personable you with your competent, business self. And gets it “just right.”
Transparency: no magic bullet
Contrary to what some gurus advise, social media success isn’t a simple formula of relating life events with honesty and openness. When you partner with corporate clients, being totally “transparent” can actually work against you.
Busy marketers and executives are not interested in your inner-life minutiae: your toddler’s diarrhea, your marital meltdown or the killer protein smoothie that makes you a lean, mean and newly-single love machine.
Does that make them cold, uncaring corporate killjoys? No, that makes them professionals trying to run a business.
In the eyes of corporate clients—especially international clients from conservative cultures—spilling your guts online doesn’t make you human. It makes you appear deranged.
And by default, an unreliable vendor.
7 sensitive subjects to share with care
So if you use social media for business, you probably want to tread carefully around the Big Three:
I would also add:
Soul-baring exceptions prove the rule
Yes, yes, there are exceptions.
If you’re a chef, you’re going to tweet about food. If you’re the Pope, you’re going to post about religion. If you’re the @CatholicFoodie, you’re going to tweet about food and religion.
But most of us aren’t.
Don’t impose a gag rule on yourself
Does “tread carefully” mean exclude all personal information from your social communities? Of course not.
Maybe you feel strongly about a sensitive or controversial issue. Something you want to amplify with your social platform. Should you or shouldn’t you? I say go ahead—with your eyes wide open. I have a thing, for instance, about animal welfare. Given some of my tweets, I’ve resigned myself to never writing copy for Con Agra, Hormel or the US Bureau of Land Management.
The trick is finding the balance that’s right for you, for the people who follow you online and for your prospective clients.
So playing Goldilocks, here’s how I might tweet about the 7 sensitive subjects, above.
Goldilocks gets social sharing just right
Too much: “The Fascist pigs in Washington just killed the healthcare bill.”
Too little: “Senate rejected the healthcare bill.”
Just right: “Nice one on the healthcare bill, senators. Hope Cobra kicks in when you lose your job. Next election.”
Too much: “Good Friday. Praying for non-believers. Like Our Lord said, ‘No one comes to the Father except through me.’ #JustSayin’.”
Too little: “Taking the afternoon off.”
Just Right: “Taking the afternoon off for Good Friday services.”
Too much: “Yeehaw! It’s Saturday night—can’t wait to jump my girlfriend.
Too Little: Online, it’s impossible to say too little about sex.
Just right: Unless you’re a doctor, don’t mention sex at all in a business context. Sorry.
Too much: “Crushing it with an organic grape, biodynamic banana, whey and flaxseed smoothie. Feeling the chi!”
Too little: “Trying to eat healthier.”
Just right: “Like Smoothies? Here’s a great recipe.”
Too much: “Third day of sinus infection. Good thing the phlegm is clear, not green like yesterday’s.”
Too little: “Having trouble focusing on client project.”
Just right: “Under the weather but soldiering on with client project.”
Too much: “Conference shiz done. I haz double-fisted Margaritas. Partay!”
Too little: “I think the post-conference bar is open.”
Just right: “Conference done. Enjoying a Whiskey Sour with @EcoKarenLee.”
Too much: “Kiki wants to wear ‘yam-yams!’(PJs) to first day of Tiny Tots!! LMAO #CutestKidInTheWorld”
Too little: “Getting a late start at work today.”
Just right: “Taking the morning off to drop my 3 year-old at her first day of nursery school. Sniff.”
What’s your “just right” mix in social communities? Do you lean more toward “transparency”? Or are you more comfortable keeping some of your life private? Have any items to add to my “sensitive subjects” list? Please share your comments.
Goldilocks photo courtesy of David Noah 1