Working with companies on their social media campaigns can pose a tricky dilemma for the consultants: on the one hand you’re hired because you know your way around the social media sphere, which of course you do because you’re very active there. On the other hand, you don’t want to abuse your personal social network for your clients. After all, who likes Tupperparty-style personal interactions?
So how much of your clients’ work should be mixed into your own social networks: Blog, Twitter, Facebook? I think we can all agree that full disclosure is the least all of us in the social media sphere need to do. (Here’s a list of my most relevant clients, and I’ll fully disclose wherever a conflict of interest may arise.) But that shouldn’t be all.
I’ve had situations where my business and private activity got mixed up. Partly that’s a good sign, as I often get hired to do stuff I love to do. At other times, there just wasn’t time to set up separate accounts. Sometimes, you forget to log out of your private account and into the campaigns account – it can happen. And frankly, it’s not the end of the world. After all, if I wouldn’t want to be associated with my clients, I wouldn’t work for them.
Still, it feels like all of us – together, or each of us individually – will need to negotiate best practices, guidelines, rules of thumb: Where do we draw the line? What’s ok, what’s annoying, what’s abuse of personal ties and friendships? How many invites to become fans of this new sneaker or that band or this party do we really want to find in our Facebook inbox?
Using Overly abusing your personal friends for work will burn your social capital cost you friendships, and no job is worth that.
So here’s what I think I’ll go by, my personal rule of thumb:
- Facebook: My Facebook is mine, and mine alone. I might decide to post stuff there if I personally care about them. But I won’t run another campaign inside my own Facebook – everything beyond setting up a Facebook page and handing it over is just too socially awkward.
- Blog: I might blog my observations and thoughts on a campaign or project, mostly on a meta level.
- Twitter: I might post a link to a project or campaign, with disclosure. The higher frequency of posts per day allows more liberal handling. Where possible, I’ll opt for setting up a dedicated Twitter account.
For all of these, I’m the only person to decide what I run in my personal outlets, how I run them, and what not to run. I won’t ever post anything a client or third party tries to pressure me into.
All of this is in flux, and will have to evolve over time, but it’s a start. And I’m very curious about your take on all this: How do you go about it?
I don’t have the kind of business you do, in fact now I’m back in a 9 to 5 normal employment position which makes it even less relevant I guess.
My only rule, aside from the general Wheaton’s “Don’t be a dick on the interwebs” is that Facebook belongs to people I know in real life. I’ve relaxed that with about 5 facebook contacts, and may do so again with select others, but I’m not going to let business/blogging/tweeting contacts into a network that doesn’t involve them at all. Also Facebook’s sneaky way of letting strangers slide into other people’s photo albums because they know someone tagged in it makes me uncomfortable. Some of my friends really do still think their photos are available only to their direct contacts and their privacy is thereby secured.
That’s a really good point – this Facebook photo spam sucks. Then again, you’re right, maybe the overall topic isn’t really that much of an issue. I might just refer to your “don’t be a dick” policy ;)
I think Wil Wheaton take credit for that rule:
I do think mixing social media groups is problematic, especially when they can be dramatically different. My school friends aren’t interested in my Berlin reviews, Berlin tourists aren’t interested in my crafting, crafters aren’t interested in my dog and my dog is only interested in when he gets dinner. So far I have three different identities on the ‘tubes and having to juggle multiple twitter accounts, facebook groups, blogs etc AND trying to boost traffic to them with the right target groups is a pain in the proverbial. And let’s not forget I have a day job in a ‘serious’ field and there’s always the danger of being dooced if, say, my porn cross stitch pieces get mixed up with my employer’s business identity.