Ask most anyone and they’ll likely tell you that I’m an open book. If I have something to say it’s said. If it’s about someone it’s said to their face. That, or it’s something I have no problem saying to their face (if I already haven’t 🙂
No pun intended, but that said, it seems appropriate that I write a blog entitled “Life Online” because that’s where my life is. Between Facebook, Twitter and this Blog, most of my life is streamed online.
I pretty much see myself as a sort of social experiment trying to answer the question, ‘where’s the line’? How far does one take social media? Where does that line between professional and personal blur? How much personality should one reveal/infuse?
For me, there isn’t much I wouldn’t put online about myself as long as it harms none. Maybe it’s my age or perhaps generation, or that I don’t feel I have much to hide, or that I live without regrets; likely it’s a combination. Maybe it’s not though. I can think of a couple peers right away that don’t even have their cell phone number on their business cards because that’s too personal for them to hand out. Personally, I’d rather not have my desk phone number on my cards (if you had our voicemail system you’d probably understand). Call or text my cell, if I can’t talk at that moment I’ll call you back as soon as possible. Call my desk phone and leave a message…I’m not checking that for a week at least. I’m not saying, I’m just sayin’.
But back to that question, Where do you draw the line and post too much about yourself? Is there even a line at all? I can’t answer that for you but for me I know I’m still figuring it all out but I have a pretty good idea.
This weekend in particular, has made me ponder this question even more so. With the deaths of both of my grandparents, each a day apart, I was torn with how appropriate it would be to Tweet something related to the topic. I expect that many will disagree with me on this but if you are ok with sharing the good things the bad should be shared as well. That balance, or struggle between negative and positive is what makes us whole, makes us human. I think the Jason Lee phrase from Vanilla Sky sums it up best, “the sweet ain’t as sweet without the sour.”
Moreover, as marketers, if we are to truly claim that we make connections online and preach to our clients that relationships between the brand and the consumer need to be genuine then we ourselves have be real with each other. And being real means bringing up the stuff that no one else wants to talk about sometimes; be that death, bankruptcy, job loss, etc. These things are all a part of life, a part of our relationships and relationships are built on conversations.
This brings me to another question; how can one say you know someone but not have a clue what their life is like? This is part of the reason why I have a hard time following Guy Kawasaki on Twitter. The man is a marketing genius, don’t get me wrong here. But his Tweets are not much more than alltop promos. I couldn’t guess and tell you what his sense of humor or personality is like through his Tweets. But follow someone like Chris Brogan, and especially the hysterical and often arygle infused exchanges between David Armano and Russ Unger and you have a pretty good idea of what hanging out with these chaps over drinks would be like. All the while, these guys and others are talking shop and sharing the great links and ideas they create and encounter. They provide value by maintaining approachablity and being honest; not by strictly “being professional”. Often by “being professional” we come across as uncaring and unfeeling…robotic. Who wants to interact with someone like that? Who would want to intereact and do business with a brand like that.
Not I. (although I may make an exception for my lawyer or accountant :P)
I am human. I have emotions. I cry, I laugh; and sometimes that’s at the same time. I write what I think and what I feel. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s totally fine. I just suggest they stop reading because I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. We don’t know how much of that we each have.
To tie this back to brands, Brands are nothing more than an amalgam of human personalities and traits, relationships and conversations. As such brands should show a certain degree of emotion too.
I hope that writing at 4:40am and under this much personal stress hasn’t made too much of a mess of this post. Writing my thoughts out makes me feel better as it’s a nice diversion and outlet for me. I will likely pull this down and re-work it so it’s more fluid. Until then though comments and thoughts are greatly appreciated.
Much love to 2 of the best grandparents ever. Your lives were certainly not easy but the memories you’ve given me are forever cherished. I hope you are both at peace now.