Be Your Own Social Networking Advocate


It’s ironic that someone like me, in a former life, an online exhibitionist – whose muse used to be disastrous dating stories and whose mouthpiece was blogging – gets shy these days on subject of work-life blurring on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

My day job consists of educating people on the necessity of online marketing, the importance of community-building tools in general, and how the web can make content dynamic and have a far greater reach and impact on your audience. I believe wholeheartedly in what I do. In fact, these days, businesses must adopt technology-savvy, holistic approaches when thinking about going to market with a product. It’s a prerequisite for success.

In the past year as I’ve become more of a part-time, seasonal blogger and full-time desk jockey, I’ve been finding I need to separate my work and life activities more. This wasn’t a problem in the past since most of my gigs weren’t “career-track” type jobs, but as I get older, and more serious about my 9-5ish lifestyle, I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to keep this boundary intact, which makes me crave privacy even more.

So where does this leave me? I flock to my account settings and privacy preferences on social networking sites like a maggot to rice. What this really boils down to (sorry for the butchering of a metaphor here) is that I don’t always want my work to know what it is I think and don’t think or don’t do after hours because a lot of it’s random and unfiltered. I like unfiltered. The flip side of the equation is that, for me, social networking used to be fun, which is why I started. It stops being fun when “work” enters into the equation, even when you love the work you do and value the people you work with. The same rule doesn’t apply to former work situations, however.

Recently a situation occurred where a work peer requested to “follow” me on Twitter. I have my Twitter settings set to “private” so followers must issue a request which I then can “approve” or “decline.” It’s not all that complicated and since I seem to get my fair share of spam-like twitter requests, it works out well. The truth is I didn’t readily accept the request. At first, I just left it there, then she reminded me, then before I knew it, her request had been pending for a few mos. I finally accepted it, although not without my hesitation. My reluctance stemmed from Twitter being the last piece of social networking out there that hadn’t been tainted by work. It was a relic and I cherished it.

So I could start another Twitter handle, and keep that one private, but what happens with my 65 followers that has taken me like 1.5 years to build organically and from which I had an in-grown marketing base from which to promote my work and share my failures and successes? Do I spend another 2 years building one or wait for the next best social media channel to sweep the world and pimp that ride?

A piece of advice for those facing such situations – and I have a feeling that’s a number of you out there – Be forthright and honest with your coworkers, share your hesitations and desire for privacy. You don’t owe your day job your night and weekend hours too. I have a feeling my colleague would have been cool with my candor, and even if not, eventually the tension would have subsided, and I would have respected myself more. In short, don’t always give into the peer pressure. Stick to your boundaries.

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