LinkedIn is not Facebook. Facebook is not LinkedIn. However, there seems to be a blurring of the lines between the two, especially recently. Have you noticed? People posting to LinkedIn the kinds of things you are accustomed to seeing on Facebook.
Yes, work environments are becoming more relaxed, probably stemming from the trend of relaxed dress codes but when did that start translating into posts from Buzzfeed showing up in my LinkedIn newsfeed? Don’t get me wrong! I don’t want to come across as a stiff or a stuffed-shirt. I have no problem with hoodies, t-shirts, jeans, sandals, and the relaxed work environments that go along with that. In fact, I am all for it. Fortunately, I have been able to work in those kinds of situations the majority of my career.
What I am getting at is the fact that people are now applying this relaxed attitude to the kind of content they share and the nature of things they say on LinkedIn. I have seen a rise in political debate. I have seen people blatantly share their stance on guns and gun control. I have also seen people share truly personal aspects of their lives birth announcements or their religious beliefs.
Those are just a few examples of posts that seem at odds with LinkedIn’s positioning as the world’s largest professional network with the emphasis on “professional”. Are we at the stage now, because of the rise of social networks, that we no longer distinguish between our personal and professional lives? Many of us befriend our business connections as well as do business with the friends we’ve always had. Some parts of the world use Facebook as their professional network because they put deep relationships first when it comes to doing business.
I am not saying that people are not allowed to share their opinions or beliefs, but I am suggesting that they may be putting their career or business opportunities at risk, possibly without evening knowing it. If they are comfortable with that then who am I too to disagree?
I guess I am not opposed to the direction we are moving in, but perhaps we need to tread lightly. Maybe the pendulum is swinging to the extremes right now and, over time, we will eventually reach a happy medium in the middle where we can share more personal content and insights about ourselves without fear of repercussions. Until that time, we still need to exert some common sense which, sadly, isn’t all that common.
I regularly speak and teach regarding social media and my standard advice when it comes to posting to social media is “Never say or do anything that you wouldn’t say or do in front of your grandmother in front of a room of 100 people.” People usually pause and consider that scenario. Then they smile and realize that is something they can understand and apply in their situation. There will always be someone who overshares, but I guess if they are okay with it then we have to be too.
Ultimately, it comes down to how you feel about it. What do you feel comfortable sharing and where are you comfortable sharing it. I keep Facebook for friends and family. LinkedIn is my professional network. Finally, Twitter is a blend of the preceding two. It could be different for you. That’s your prerogative. For me, I am going to keep my worlds somewhat separate for now.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter so feel free to comment or get in touch.
About the Author
Andrew Jenkins is Founder and Principal of Volterra, a professional services firm that has provided social media strategy, outsourced social media management, content development and planning, and social selling training to numerous mid to large enterprises. Andrew has spent the last twenty years working in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) spanning social media, wireless, and e‐business throughout North America and Europe. He has been identified as a social selling expert and has been featured in LinkedIn marketing campaigns, most recently as one of ten Canadian success stories. He speaks regularly at conferences and events about social media and social selling. He is a member of the Board of the Direct Marketing Association of Canada. He holds a BA in Economics from Laurentian University, a BFA in Film Production from York University, and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He also taught entrepreneurship at OCAD University and currently teaches Digital Strategy at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.