It’s Not Personal – or Is It?

When Twitter first arrived on the scene a few years ago, it took a long while for businesses to jump on the bandwagon. A few brave souls were early adopters but even today, there’s still a lot of skepticism on whether or not social media is appropriate and valuable for business. I think we’ve made it clear here that we believe it is, but if you’re still wondering, take a look at some of the biggest “web-celebs” (individuals popular on the web and who have successfully used it to build and extend their brand) and their use of social media. Many of them use it solely for the purpose of business – you rarely, if ever, see a personal update from them. So, although one might argue that these folks are focused on “personal branding,” ultimately, they are using their recognition to grow their businesses. A few examples:

Pete Cashmore (he moved over to Google Buzz in lieu of his “personal” Twitter account)

Robert Scoble (a few scattered personal comments but usually around where he is, especially with his current focus to travel the world to study how start-ups are formed)

Guy Kawasaki (“firehose” is putting it lightly)

Michael Arrington (if you don’t count semi-arguments with people trying to get his attention through controversial engagement)

Brian Solis (the most personal current Tweets are around his own book)

On the flip side, there are several examples of some new “web celebs” who often share personal updates, sometimes posting such random things like quotes from their favorite song, or what they had for dinner. Folks like Laura Fitton of oneforty, Penelope Trunk (who is a writer, so perhaps this is part of her persona), Chris Brogan (also a blogger, but now also a marketer) and Peter Shankman (of HARO fame) all share a combination of personal viewpoints and professional insights.

Then there’s a lot of talk about the new “over sharing” of personal information around location-based technologies, such as Foursquare. If you missed the latest hoopla, check out this TIME story on Please Rob Me and the dangers of getting too personal online. A recent PR-specific example of over sharing is the young lady who was hired – and then had her offer rescinded – by People’s Revolution (a fashion PR firm and center of the BravoTV show, Kell On Earth) for tweeting about her job interview.

So what’s my point? It’s really more of a question – are those who keep content more professional-focused and less personal-focused, more successful in business? Have social media networks crossed the chasm from personal fun to serious business tool? If so, why are so many brands still hesitant to make the leap into social marketing? Clearly, these few examples are only a small part of the social media population – but they are also strong examples of those who have successfully grown their personal brand through heavy use of social media and digital content.

What’s your style? Do you have a preference of the type of people that you connect with in social networks? Is it better as a business/executive – especially a marketer – to keep what you share 100% professional? I tend to believe that as a PR executive, social networks give us the opportunity to show that we’re human, more intelligent than often given credit for, and interested and passionate about many of the very products and services we promote. However, I often wonder whether or not I should post anything personal on my social networks. My historical preference has been to strike a balance between professional and personal posts, although with Facebook I really struggle – should I be posting anything personal? If I want to be personal, should I only accept “friends” who are truly friends in real life (you know, those people I’ve actually met and share common interests with)?

What do you think? I’m particularly interested in hearing from those who have built brand awareness online and if such success came from staying on one side of the fence or another. Thanks in advance for “sharing.”


Persuasive Picks for the week of 06/21/09

Facebook Marketing for Dummies5 Tips for Optimizing your Facebook Marketing
Facebook’s 200+ million users make it an increasingly attractive place to try some social marketing efforts. Paul Dunay of the Buzz Marketing for Technology blog shares five ways you can optimize those efforts.

The Forgotten Social Media Tool
With so many social networks and platforms to utilize these days, it’s easy to forget the countless bulletin board systems out there that still have incredibly active communities covering limitless niche topics. Robert Quigley brings bulletin boards back into perspective with this post on MediaBullsEye.

How to Use Social Media: An Interview with Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic
Guy Kawasaki shares this interesting interview (via Amex’s Open Forum blog) with Lee Aase of the Mayo Clinic on how they have been utilizing social media.

My Top 10 Sources of Content Inspiration
Being able to generate a continuous stream of content for blog posts comes naturally for some. For others, it can be a torturous process. Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch shares 10 places where he finds inspiration for writing a plethora of great content.

Report: Companies Should Organize For Social Media in a “Hub and Spoke” model
Many companies diving into the social media space are still trying to figure out what department actually “owns” social media. Should it be part of an existing internal group or is a re-organization in order? Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang shares three different models of company organization that can be found in his latest report.

Valuable Content, Not Numbers, is What Really Matters in Social Media for Business

This morning I received a promotional email from a company that began with this line, “With over 1,700 followers on Twitter, [Company] is fast becoming a top industry resource…”

That statement fires me up for a few reasons:

1) Why do 1700 followers on Twitter make you an industry resource?

2) Who are the 1700 followers and why do you equate them with credibility of your organization (or to me) if you haven’t put them into context?

3) This was from a PR resource company and screams “bad pitch” to me – something the PR industry continues to suffer from.

Where is the context? Proof points? Value explanation?

This is the biggest issue I see right now in social media efforts from businesses: too much fluff and not enough valuable content. This email landed on the heels of a video I watched on Friday that raised hairs on my neck. It was a home-produced video commercial for a “service” (read: a set of video instructions) to help you “build your Twitter followers with no effort at all! Fully automated!” (I so vehemently disagree with its purpose that I can’t even bring myself to link to it here.)

Look, we’re all aware that there’s a certain level of narcissism to social media. We share every little thing we do, say or feel with near-strangers via microblogging, video, Facebook and more. We compare follower numbers, TwitPic everything we can, and debate over whether or not to employ a Guy Kawasaki-like Twitter strategy or not. Follower numbers do matter to a lot of people.

And while a large following can work for good causes – take Ashton Kutcher and CNN raising $$ to fight Malaria in their battle to reach 1M users – it’s not quite the same when you’re promoting a product or service. In other words, using social media for business has got to employ a smarter strategy. It’s easy to be viewed as genuine when raising money for a good cause. Building a genuine reputation when promoting your business takes a bit more effort.

That effort includes understanding social media – not just touting your use of it because it’s a hot buzz word or trend. Don’t mislead your prospects or customers by equating your “followers” on Twitter (or elsewhere) with value – unless you’ve done your homework and can explain how those numbers add value. I have over 10,000 followers on Twitter today but I wouldn’t tout those numbers as the value in a new business pitch. Rather, I would tout that I know how to identify and communicate with the specific followers within that number that would matter to the prospect. Or, that I know how to help build, grow and maintain a focused and valuable network for my clients (as I’ve done for myself and for others). My fashion industry friends are not going to matter to my VoIP or healthcare clients. My parenting discussions won’t relate to non-parenting Twitter pals. My marathon community doesn’t matter to my PR colleagues (well, not the ones who aren’t runners anyway). You get the point.

I am fully aware that the exciting opportunity in social media is to expand your network in ways never before possible. I agree that there are unprecedented opportunities for promoting and connecting. But people who are turning social media – especially Twitter – into a massive infomercial are missing the point. Even if you get 25,000 followers to your Twitter stream, if you don’t offer meaningful value to them, they aren’t going to stay, or buy your product, or read your blog. Say you’re Tweeting about mountain climbing gear and 75% of your followers are musicians who live in New York City. That means an even smaller percentage of those 25,000 followers are likely to be relevant customers. And that brings me back to touting your follower numbers alone as value. The value is in the content and the relationship (and how these relate to your ultimate goals), not the numbers.

The more popular social media becomes – like Twitter, for example – the more choosy I am becoming about who I’m connecting with – and the more I am learning about how to maintain value for different audiences. I want value out of these relationships – both work and personal value – and I’m finding that many of my friends are discovering this as well. I want to help my clients participate in social media intelligently – in a way that will bring value to their organization as well as their customers.

The booming popularity of social media has changed the focus – for those who truly get it – from building a large network to building a valuable network. I’ve got various examples to share on how to do this – but that’s another blog post.

What do you think?

PerkettPR is now on Alltop

alltop_badge.jpgAs of this morning we’ve officially been added to the PR section of! For the unfamiliar, here is how they describe their site:

We help you explore your passions by collecting stories from “all the top” sites on the web. We’ve grouped these collections — “aggregations” — into individual Alltop sites based on topics such as environment, photography, science, Muslim, celebrity gossip, military, fashion, gaming, sports, politics, automobiles, and Macintosh. At each Alltop site, we display the headlines of the latest stories from dozens of sites and blogs.

Thanks to Guy and the Alltop Team for including us!

Persuasive Picks for the Week of 03/31/2008

Persuasive PicksThis week we bring you six “Persuasive Picks” across 5 different topics. Enjoy!

Seesmic Acquires Popular Twitter AIR Client Twhirl
Seesmic and Twitter fans have a new reason to be giddy. Seesmic’s acquisition of the popular Twhirl Twitter client will bring about the perfect blend of video and Twitter messaging. It will be interesting to see if this merge brings more business use to the current, primarily social use of Seesmic.

How to Come Up with Topics to Write About On Your Blog
Are you a blogging business professional? Do you find it difficult to generate a steady stream of topics to blog about? Uber-blogger Darren Rowse from shares a great video demonstrating one of the techniques he uses to generate ongoing blog topic ideas.

Writing Effective Blog Posts
Now that you’ve watched Darren Rowse’s video from our pick above and have your topic to write about, check out this short post on the techniques social media-master Chris Brogan uses to craft his daily posts.

The Ultimate Top Ten List For Small Business
Lela Davidson from the Business Pundit blog compiles a great list of links to “Top Ten” lists for small business. The linked topics include “Top Ten Marketing Blogs,” “Top Ten Best Presentations Ever,” and “Ten Tips For Time Management in a Multitasking World.”

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Facebook
Guy Kawasaki taps “I’m on Facebook – Now What???” co-author Jesse Stay for a list of ten Facebook power tips. There are many good nuggets here if you’ve been hesitant to use Facebook for social networking as a business professional.

How to Deal with Internal Stakeholders
Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang continues to pump out amazing posts and this one is no exception. In this post, he shares many tips on how to leverage the power of your company’s stakeholders (internal customers) to maximize your social media and web strategy efforts.

Thats all for this week. As always, let us know what you think and happy reading!