Social Media for Business and Personal Use: What’s the Difference?

Relationship Marketing — being in touch with your team members and customers is directly linked to social media.  Mastering social media is important not only to KEEPING in touch with your team members and customers who use social media but for finding new potential customers and new potential team members.  I’m mindful of this everytime I read Jennifer Fong’s blog.  I always enjoy her content, so here’s her latest piece.  Because of her, I’ve calmed WAY down on my farmville postings on facebook lately.  I still play the games, I just don’t post every single ribbon I earn.  I’m still a fun approachable gal who plays games with not only my friends but my customers and team members— but I’m also more professional and business minded when I need to be, thanks to Jennifer’s advice.

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Social Media For Business and Personal Use: What’s the Difference?

Many people who get involved with direct selling or network marketing think they know how to use social media for their businesses.  After all, they’ve been using it personally, right?  How different can it be for business?  The answer is VERY different, and knowing that difference is  critical if you’re going to use social media for your business.

Let’s take a look at the differences between social media for personal use, and social media for business.

Who You Connect With

This may sound obvious, but it’s actually incredibly important when it comes to the norms of communication that people accept.  For a personal social media account, you pretty much just connect to friends and family.  With an account used for business, in addition to family and friends, you’re also connecting with customers, prospects, and your company.  This is an important distinction, because when you’re using a social media profile for business, you need to be prepared to share things that are acceptable to EVERY type of person on your list.

How Public Is Your Account?

For a personal profile, your settings are mainly private. (Of course there’s the whole discussion of how private you can actually be on social networks, but that’s a conversation for another time.)  Pretty much everything you share in a personal profile will be kept within the circle of your family and friends.  You can indulge in private jokes, and use any expressions and language that are acceptable to your family and friends.  If you would say it to them in person, chances are you’ll share it on a personal profile.

With a business profile, however, you need to be prepared that your account is public.  You’ll be inviting people in who may not know you personally.  Therefore, every single thing you post could go much further than you anticipate or intend in the moment.  (Actually that could hold true for private postings too, but again, that’s another conversation.)  If you’ve been using a social media account for personal use, and then convert it to business, this means that you need to go through it and apply a filter.  Is every single thing that is there appropriate for your company, your customers, and your prospects to see?  Could anything that’s there damage your own business, or the business of your colleagues? (Time to leave that “I drank 4 beer kegs at a time in college” group!) A public, business profile is no longer a free for all.  You must keep business in mind with everything you post.

What You Share

With a personal profile, you can pretty much share anything accepted within your circle.  That includes opinions on sensitive issues (including politics and religion), certain types of language, jokes, etc.  Again, on a personal profile, if it’s accepted within your circle of family and friends, pretty much anything goes.  And since you most likely associate with people who have similar viewpoints to your own, it’s pretty easy to just be yourself.

Once you start using social media for business, however, everything changes.  There’s a big, wide world out there in social media, and you must remember that many people believe very different things from you.  Passionately.  They will find different things funny.  They will take offense to things you think are fine. And they will not stick around and listen to you whine, moan, or complain about anything. (And don’t even get me STARTED on Farmville!) When you start using social media for business, it’s time to put your big girl (or big boy) pants on, and realize that you can’t just say or do whatever pops into your head.  That’s not how business people behave.  Instead, business people are sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, and stick to topics that provide value to the target market they’re trying to reach.

This of course all means that you’re not going to be able to say certain things to your personal friends on your social networks that you used to be able to say. Get over it.  If it’s that important to say, pick up the phone.  If you want social media to be a useful tool for your business, then you need to apply a filter to every single thing that you post.  And if you think that your company, your customers, or a prospect might be struck the wrong way, then don’t do it.

Instead, spend your time providing links and content that provide value to your target market.  Share little tidbits about your life that help people get to know you as a person.  Be cheerful.  Be engaging.

THAT’S how to use social media successfully for business.

Now it’s your turn.  Seen any bad behavior?  What do you LIKE to see business people do with social media?  Can’t wait to read your thoughts below!

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies, direct sales professionals, and other home-based business owners leverage the power of social media to grow their businesses. A former direct sales company CEO, Jennifer is passionate about teaching direct sellers how to use social media tools to enhance their businesses in a strategic way. Visit Jennifer’s blog at http://jenfongspeaks.com and follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jenfongspeaks.

4 Responses to Social Media for Business and Personal Use: What’s the Difference?

  1. Leora says:

    I was wondering if you knew of Jennifer Fong – and it sounds like you really appreciate her voice! I mostly use my Facebook account to connect with friends, and my Twitter and Facebook Fan page for business. Yes, so true that connecting for business is very different than connecting for friendship, although some friends are good business advisers, too, so the two sometimes overlap, especially in social media.

    I met Jennifer Fong at a Tweetup last February.

    “business people are sensitive to the needs and feelings of others” – funny, I prefer friends that are like that as well!

  2. admin says:

    Leora, I don’t (YET) have a facebook fan page so my facebook account has been for friends, customers, team members, networking contacts, etc. And in my case it’s ALMOST always true that my clients become my friends in both my businesses.

    I’m jealous that you met Jennifer! I’d love to meet her– and you too!

  3. Hi there!

    Your post resonated with me immediately because I too read the same article from Jen Fong Speaks and in fact lists her blog on my blog as a direct sales resource for women in the business. She has great stuff on her site. I too haven’t set up a Fan Page yet but have been pretty good about keeping FB business like as much as possible. I do tend to get more social on FB than say Twitter. I recently added Lists on FB and it is a timesaver! It’s brilliant and I love being able to organize my contacts into Lists. Have you used it yet?

    Great post and glad to have found your blog!

    Janette

  4. Deb Bixler says:

    I was trying to contact you and can not find any info to email or send a direct message. I see that you have a category for many direct sales trainers and was wondering if you would like an article submission from me. What can I do for you Heather? I love collaboration…

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