Social Media for Personal and Business Use: What’s the Difference?

Many people who get involved with direct selling or network marketing think they know how to use social media for their businesses.  After all, they’ve been using it personally, right?  How different can it be for business?  The answer is VERY different, and knowing that difference is  critical if you’re going to use social media for your business.

Let’s take a look at the differences between social media for personal use, and social media for business.

Who You Connect With

This may sound obvious, but it’s actually incredibly important when it comes to the norms of communication that people accept.  For a personal social media account, you pretty much just connect to friends and family.  With an account used for business, in addition to family and friends, you’re also connecting with customers, prospects, and your company.  This is an important distinction, because when you’re using a social media profile for business, you need to be prepared to share things that are acceptable to EVERY type of person on your list.

How Public Is Your Account?

For a personal profile, your settings are mainly private. (Of course there’s the whole discussion of how private you can actually be on social networks, but that’s a conversation for another time.)  Pretty much everything you share in a personal profile will be kept within the circle of your family and friends.  You can indulge in private jokes, and use any expressions and language that are acceptable to your family and friends.  If you would say it to them in person, chances are you’ll share it on a personal profile.

With a business profile, however, you need to be prepared that your account is public.  You’ll be inviting people in who may not know you personally.  Therefore, every single thing you post could go much further than you anticipate or intend in the moment.  (Actually that could hold true for private postings too, but again, that’s another conversation.)  If you’ve been using a social media account for personal use, and then convert it to business, this means that you need to go through it and apply a filter.  Is every single thing that is there appropriate for your company, your customers, and your prospects to see?  Could anything that’s there damage your own business, or the business of your colleagues? (Time to leave that “I drank 4 beer kegs at a time in college” group!) A public, business profile is no longer a free for all.  You must keep business in mind with everything you post.

What You Share

With a personal profile, you can pretty much share anything accepted within your circle.  That includes opinions on sensitive issues (including politics and religion), certain types of language, jokes, etc.  Again, on a personal profile, if it’s accepted within your circle of family and friends, pretty much anything goes.  And since you most likely associate with people who have similar viewpoints to your own, it’s pretty easy to just be yourself.

Once you start using social media for business, however, everything changes.  There’s a big, wide world out there in social media, and you must remember that many people believe very different things from you.  Passionately.  They will find different things funny.  They will take offense to things you think are fine. And they will not stick around and listen to you whine, moan, or complain about anything. (And don’t even get me STARTED on Farmville!) When you start using social media for business, it’s time to put your big girl (or big boy) pants on, and realize that you can’t just say or do whatever pops into your head.  That’s not how business people behave.  Instead, business people are sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, and stick to topics that provide value to the target market they’re trying to reach.

This of course all means that you’re not going to be able to say certain things to your personal friends on your social networks that you used to be able to say. Get over it.  If it’s that important to say, pick up the phone.  If you want social media to be a useful tool for your business, then you need to apply a filter to every single thing that you post.  And if you think that your company, your customers, or a prospect might be struck the wrong way, then don’t do it.

Instead, spend your time providing links and content that provide value to your target market.  Share little tidbits about your life that help people get to know you as a person.  Be cheerful.  Be engaging.

THAT’S how to use social media successfully for business.

Now it’s your turn.  Seen any bad behavior?  What do you LIKE to see business people do with social media?  Can’t wait to read your thoughts below!

6 Responses to Social Media for Personal and Business Use: What’s the Difference?
  1. Angela Chrysler
    January 26, 2010 | 4:03 pm

    Great info. Simple yet true and helpful for all. Thanks Jennifer.

  2. LaDonna Loehrke
    January 26, 2010 | 12:33 pm

    A very informative post as always! I shared it with my Team Partners that are on Facebook, also. This is definitely something to go by for offline encounters, too.
    Thank you for giving us areas to consider that we may not have originally!

  3. Denise Massie
    January 25, 2010 | 7:24 pm

    I’m new to Twitter and have found that the bad business posts often fall into two categories: relentless garbage posting, or useless unrelated personal posting. The first is where the user posts every little activity or thought or event that they deem remotely related to their business (“come see this”, “read this”, “check this out”. “we’re doing this”, etc.). I get so tired that I just tune them out and never read anything from them anymore. The second type makes me wonder why the person bothers at all and I’m left wondering if they actually ever do any work. I suppose I should un-follow such people, but as I said, I’m new to the Twitter thing.

    You raise some good points Jen, but I’m wondering how you’d suggest dealing with social media friends that don’t ‘get it’. Un-friending is an option, but a little harsh. I also have the question about how to stop the onslaught of useless apps suggestions?

  4. Julie Ann Jones
    January 25, 2010 | 6:44 pm

    Great post, Jen. I’ve noticed a new trend on FB of people posting things to my wall like my daily horiscope or “so and so has sent you a bouquet of flowers”, etc. (some of them are not appropriate). I used to be able to block entire applications on my wall or count on these types of things coming through my requests center so I could decline or block them, but now they’re showing up on my wall and the only option is to delete them. There was one yesterday that was really offensive to me and because I don’t check Facebook much on the weekends, it was there for a while. I unfriended the person who posted it immediately.

    Any way to fix this issue?

  5. Mary Irwin
    January 25, 2010 | 2:25 pm

    Great post and my thoughts exactly – except that I have even more of a reaction to Bejewelled Blitz than to Farmville! Watching the posts from my team members as more and more of them start to use facebook for business contact it is clear to me that some people instinctively know how to post appropriate messages – whilst others clearly do not. Same as the world outside social media really! Some serious team training required in this area I would say…..and your post is an excellent starting point ( crediting you of course 🙂 Thank you

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