Social Networking is nothing new. Before Twitter, Facebook and the net people would get together at functions such as a country club or restaurant and invite everyone from their office to vendors and former and potential customers to promote their business. Although socializing went on friendships were primarily business related and getting too close or revealing could mean jeopardizing your job.
This line between business and pleasure has blurred dramatically with social networking and although you primarily see this with high profile stars and athletes you now also see it with larger companies.
Recently the FTC announced new rules as to endorsements of products on website blogs. They were after mommy blogers that would receive free products and then talk about them in their posts favorably. Basically they were saying that this is payment for services and not just your friend giving you a candybar because they liked it so much and wanted you to try it. That is pretty reasonable.. its called bartering..
But can the same be said about social networks where a high profile person announces their use of a product and never mentions the discounts they receive or the special handling they get in return.
In addition to the subliminal are the blatant advertising of products and services. Not only self promoted but co-branded or associated products.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter
So we all know when these things happen but what is the proper use of social networking?
Personally I try as hard as I can to not mix personal life and business because what you do is more often how you fund who you are. I have a large handful of sites that tweet and they are business related only. I also have a personal account that I almost never talk about business on and never use for publicity.
The antithesis of this would be foodies or WineO’s you see on twitter that almost equally talk about work and life and expect you to buy things from them because they are so popular.
And somewhere in the middle you have performers who spend 90% of their life working and endup talking about business because it ends up being their life… there is no big problem with that unless you see Britney Tweet a 25% off white sale at Sears.
So, how does social networking play in Business?
This is a very difficult question to answer. Life in general is a popularity contest. You see it in Hollywood and also in politics…
The more popular you are, the more attractive physically or how funny you are can mean a lot to how well you will do economically. On the other hand do you risk offending people if you are blatantly using them to promote your business or someone else’s.
I have heard and attended forms where people say they only use twitter or youtube videos in relation to the income it can generate and they wouldn’t use it at all except for the fact everyone else does.
I have also seen first hand people use their family to promote themselves… taking pictures of children who almost look like they are in pain to have another photo taken… or doing elaborate things just to get attention.
I find that a little offensive but if you are reading this and would like to share your thoughts on the matter I would really be interested in your comments.
Is it proper to social network solely for the reason of publicizing or should there be some separation between business and pleasure or family life?