The majority of tweets that came across my stream during Stowe Boyd‘s 140 Conference (#140conf) talk read something like “we have lots of identities on line, not just one, and that is a good thing.” This piqued my interest, so I watched the video of his talk this morning. While it wasn’t as rich in insights as I had hoped, it did make me start considering my personalities online and wonder if/how this will/should translate into how we use these sites in business.
For me, Facebook is a place where my friends and I chat about our lives & share pictures of our kids & vacations. Sure, I post some professional stuff there too, because a lot of my friends are in the same industry I am. However, it tends to be a much more personal, in-depth conversation that is had on Facebook. Those that I follow, and those who follow me, on Twitter tend to be much more business-based. I have many more conversations about industries (theatre, non-profit, social media, etc.) and where they are headed than about personal things. Again, it crosses a little when we share the occasional quote from our kids or photo, but in general it is more business. Have others seen the same distinction in their use of these tools?
Because of this separation in my own life, it irks me when those that I follow on Twitter urge me to become their Facebook friend right off the bat. Sorry, but you need to earn the title “friend.”
The panelists on the 140conf panel “Growing up with Real-Time Internet” said that those in high school are using Twitter in a completely different way than even they were (all were 19-25, I believe). Presuming that most this demographic aren’t using any of the web tools primarily for business purposes, how will they define the personalities of Twitter, Facebook, and those tools yet to come? I doubt that they will suddenly, at 25, start using Twitter solely for business. Will we (should we?) of other generations further release the boundaries between work and life, business and friendship?
Which brings me around to the question of how this needs to inform how we as businesses communicate on these platforms. I actually think theatres (and arts orgs in general) have a step up when it comes to folks thinking of us as “friends” … our work lends itself to deeper personal connection more naturally than, say, a company selling laundry detergent. This is only true in the world of social media, of course, if we choose to comport ourselves online as the respectful, engaging family member that we have to potential to be. I honestly don’t care if Facebook calls us fans or just says we “like” something, the potential for real connection is still there. For both Twitter and Facebook, it all just comes back to listening. In order to have the appropriate conversations with potential evangelists, you need to know how they are communicating in the space and approach them in like manner.