We’ve all experienced it. A business or blog shares a status update that gives away information far too personal to be relevant to furthering its mission or brand. The line between making your business’s social media feel personable and treating it like a diary is becoming more and more blurred. With many contradicting opinions regarding the level of personal information a business should share on social media, how do you know what’s appropriate for you and your network? The most honest answer is that this all depends upon your target audience, the brand you’re trying to create and the industry you work in. The easy answer is that there are some go-to guidelines that exist which can help you stay on the safe side on social media “oversharing.” They look something like this:
When to Share:
Think of 5 ranging characteristics of your fans or followers (oldest, youngest, male, female, career field, personal hobbies). Is what you’re about to post likely to appeal to 3 or more of these characteristics? If so, that information will be of interest to a significant portion of your audience and should be posted.
Is this something you want absolutely everyone knowing? Remember, depending on your network of followers this can include former bosses, teachers, relatives (including grandparents) and young children. If the information you’re sharing is something you could comfortably tell any of these people face-to-face, then it sounds like content that is both personal and professional. Share away!
Can you easily link the post back to your brand or mission statement? Strategically, your business should have a clearly defined mission statement and your blog should have a theme. Both of these affect the brand you’re trying to create. To be sure your social media isn’t getting off track by getting too personal, ask yourself, “Does what I’m about to post align with my mission statement or theme?” If yes, this is good content to share.
Even though it’s personal, is it also professional? Personal and professional are often opposing forces in life and in social media. You never want to risk your professional image on your business or blog’s profiles in an attempt to share overly personal information to spark a discussion. Surprisingly, a middle ground between the two can be found when you share a personal comment, photo or story that sheds a positive and professional light on your business and the people who work there.
When Not to Share:
Could it be considered SPAM? If you’re something from a mass email, a stock image or a plea to support your friend in a fundraiser, many members of your network may be annoyed and view this as SPAM. These are examples of items you should consider sharing only on your personal page. We all know how difficult it can be to grow your fans and followers. It’s not worth losing their social media loyalty by inundating them with frequent posts unrelated to your brand.
Is it unrelated to your blog or business? If you want to share a photo of your family enjoying a weekend outing, but it has nothing to do with your business or your brand, save it for your personal page where only family and close friends can enjoy it. You don’t want followers to be confused as to whether this is your business or personal page, so keep those lines very clear. Personal photos can be shared on your business’s page, but connect it back to your company’s mission statement with a relevant caption that would interest readers and help them learn something new.
Could it make someone feel uncomfortable? The last thing you want to do is to share something on your business’s page that could offend, annoy or turn off any member of your network enough to make them stop following you. You want to make your audience feel engaged, welcomed and inspired. If what you want to share has the potential to do the opposite of any of these, it’s better left unsaid or shared privately on your personal page.
Now that you have some clear guidelines to identifying posts that might be too personal for social media, you can continue to confidently market your business or blog on Facebook and Twitter without the worry of “Am I oversharing?” The key for businesses to effectively harness the power of social media to further their brand is to keep it personal enough that people gain an insight into the people behind the company name, but maintain respect and a professional impression of what your brand stands for.