In the past, we had our business life and our personal life—one email address for each, one phone number for each, etc. Today?
- After the Marketing Conference last year, I was friended on Facebook by a colleague I met from a now-former member company. I still get updates on his family’s scuba vacations, but really only want to urge him to rejoin SIPA.
- Here are two recent tweets from Louise White, a former SIPA UK board member: “…engagement riles me even more than paywalls. I prefer the honesty of ‘hits.’” “On way home to round 2 of the cat/child/armchair grudge match.”
- On LinkedIn I get requests to connect from friends and colleagues, some I barely even know. Do I say yes to everyone?
It seems as if any lines that used to exist on social media between work and personal have been washed away over the last couple years. Questions persist about whether this is a good thing, and that’s without getting into the legal ramifications of who owns Twitter lists when an employee leaves and what employers should and can do to prevent any “problems.” I put the quotes there because younger people—the Millennials—probably don’t see any potential problems from their mixing work and personal. And for the most part, they might be right.
Once upon a not-too-long time ago, marketing and editorial stood at opposite ends with a large moat in between—not too different from professional and personal. But the times they are a -changin’ fast. In fact, one of the best sessions at December’s Marketing Conference in Las Vegas will be “Your New Best Friend: The Editorial/Marketing Relationship.” Representatives from two of the largest SIPA members, Access Intelligence and CQ Roll Call, will be presenting success stories that probably couldn’t have happened five years ago.
On Friday, I spoke to Andy Swindler, president of Astek. He and Rachel Yeomans, his VP account strategy, are always among the thought leaders when it comes to issues such as this one. Andy was dealing with his own crisis—an office building with the water turned off—but he was kind enough to weigh in a bit for me.
“To some extent, like all networking, it’s not all about business,” he said. “Our personalities do come into play [in the professional world] especially with a company like ours that does creative consulting. You’ll see @aswindler at the bottom of my correspondences, both personal and professional. So along with the consulting I do you’ll see the burger I posted on Foursquare last week. Part of bringing social media into work is celebrating our personalities. We’re not all automotons sitting in a factory, It matters. That’s often how people decide who to work with, and [social media can be] a reflection of who we are.
“That being said, companies should have a social media policy that will define whether or not employees can use their personal channels to help build the brand. You want a series of guidelines on how you should do that.” By the way, Andy will be speaking in Vegas on keyword strategy, and during breaks on this and any other interesting topic that comes up.
As for most SIPA members, you get the feeling that social media is still not at the top of their agendas. The fact that you can’t really assign an ROI makes it difficult to put aside renewals and email marketing to work on. But it’s just too encompassing now to ignore.
Ragan Communications led me to a study that “shows that companies should focus more on managing employees as reputation builders and brand ambassadors” through social media. The thinking is that they’re going to be on social media anyway, so you might as well try to manage the process so it helps you.
Here’s part of a statement from one of the researchers: “We observe an increasing and consistent need to address the heightened role of employees in social media, regardless of whether the company has an official presence there. This need emerges from the fact that employees have a crucial role as active meaning makers and reputation builders in various social-media networks that include customers, colleagues and friends, and in which the boundaries between work and non-work roles begin to lose their sharp contours. Hence, the ways in which companies balance between managing work and private lives of their employees as well as openness and control becomes an issue that needs careful attention.”
Swindler also would like to see more SIPA members go from dipping their toe in the water to taking the plunge when it comes to social media. “Social networks are designed to amplify and grow the brand,” he said. “You can ask, how much individual personality is there in branding and marketing? But it’s people who make the business.”
Speaking of Ragan, Jenny Fukumoto, the marketing manager there and another thought leader on social media, will be leading a session on that topic in Las Vegas. You kind of get the feeling that a lot will be taking place there—business-wise, I mean. Though I’m sure that tweets from attendees that week will cover the gamut.
Oh, if you’d like to keep up with SIPA activities on social media, I tweet from @sipaonline, and Luis Hernandez, vice president of SIPA, tweets from @LuisinDC18.
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 as managing editor. Follow Ronn on Twitter at @SIPAOnline