The Difference Between Social, Professional and Personal

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Business Insider ran an interesting piece last week about the “15 Most Detrimental Social Media Mistakes You’re Making.” The problem of social media marketers getting too personal was one that popped up several times on the list, which was compiled from tips submitted by some of the industry’s biggest social media hotshots. This issue is one that pollutes blogs, tweets and Facebook pages of companies big and small. We’ve seen brands go down in flames thanks to big-mouthed CEOs or Twitter-happy celebrity spokespeople. So, the question is: How do we infuse ourselves into our online marketing strategies while managing to keep it professional?

Consider the case of Bernardo Hees before you fire off that mouthy and opinionated blog. Hees is the CEO at Burger King – or at least for the next 20 minutes, anyway. The outspoken Hees caught hell this week when he dogged British women and the English cuisine while giving a lecture at the University of Chicago.

“The food is terrible and the women are not very attractive (in England). Here in Chicago the food is good, and you are known for good-looking women,” was quoted by the Chicago Maroon.

Putting aside the irony of someone from Burger King criticizing anybody’s food, Hees’ statement was caught fire and ticked off British customers. An off-the-cuff comment can be apologized for later (which Hees did later via spokesperson) but controversial statements often are caught on tape or captured on social media… Just ask John Galliano.

Yet this all seems very blurry. Social media, which is supposed to be, uhm, social, should be chatty and conversational, right? We should use to best parts of our personality to sell our brand. The key here is editing. Our thoughts about religions, politics or how ugly we think an entire group of people are should be kept mercifully to ourselves. Instead of talking about how amazing our thoughts are, we should use blogs and social media to interact with our clients. The dead end blathering about how great we are and what products we have isn’t only narcissistic – it’s beyond boring to read.

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