Tailor Your Social Media Strategy to Your Industry’s Rules of Engagement

In another great post, Ayelet Noff, AKA Blonde 2.0, gave some tips for effective usage of social networks. I agree with most of the points she raised, and I love her blog (and her as a person 🙂 ), but one thing caught my attention:

Finally, I want to discuss the topic of private vs. public identities, which I have written about in the past. Due to the whole premise behind Web 2.0, the borders between our personal and professional lives online are slowly disintegrating and to my belief, this is a good thing. When I upload pictures to my Flickr page, I upload professional pictures, but I also upload pictures of me, just hanging out with my friends, or traveling to interesting locations. When I update my status on Twitter, I may update regarding the latest post I just wrote on my blog but I may also twitter about an interesting article I just read or the latest movie I just saw.

I know that some people try to keep a certain professional façade online because they are afraid of what other professionals may think…I think these individuals are only putting themselves at a disadvantage… People like to connect with other people who are open and genuine. The more you allow people into your world, the more people will allow you into their own. By creating a rich profile you are only showing others that you are an active member of the community and that you have a multi-dimensional and unique personality of your own.

I believe that like everything in life, things are a bit more complex.

Different industries, different ethics

The view that open equals better is a one of the foundations of the Internet industry. It is so deeply rooted, that one can find its print in every aspect of its day to day life – informal dress code, open communication standards such as HTTP, flat standards organizations, and an implicit preference toward young entrepreneur. We all remember how Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO, was filmed jumping on a yellow ball, laughing hysterically.

The telecom industry is different, in many aspects. Dress code is more formal, standards organizations are hierarchical, and young age is not necessarily conceived as an advantage for entrepreneur.

I live in both worlds. I am a blogger, using social media in my day to day life and work, and at the same time working with telecom companies, directly or as part of my capacity as IMTC VP or Marketing.

SO?

These differences are not only semantic ones – they reach to the core of these industries. Therefore they differ in the way they evaluate bloggers and social networkers.

The Myth of Social Media Openness

Yes, social media users are usually more open than other. But the reason for that is that many of the leaders of this revolution are coming from the Internet industry. Therefore they see openness as added value. In my opinion, like in many areas of marketing and relationships, social media cannot be treated as one-size-fits-all. Every industry has it own rules of engagement, that should be respected. Ayelet notes:

I know that some people try to keep a certain professional façade online because they are afraid of what other professionals may think…I think these individuals are only putting themselves at a disadvantage…

And she is right, if I am covering the Internet industry. But I don’t believe that openness provides the same benefits when I cover industries that do not see it as core value. In some of my talks with Telecom companies about bloggers, I heard comments like: “when I read an article, I don’t want to know if the writer is married or not – it is completely irrelevant”, ” Why should I see a picture of the writer at the beach, with his kids without a shirt?” and so on and so forth. Some even noted that it reduces the reliability of the writers in their point of view. Though a bit extreme, we need to understand that when we approach such markets and create their social media strategy.

Bottom Line

Social media is here to stay, and every company, news organization or brand that disregard it lose the amazing benefits this field can provide. But just like in any other area, we need to learn the rules of engagement of the industry, and customize our strategy to it. Otherwise we are harming the company, and the field of social media as a whole.

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5 Responses to “Tailor Your Social Media Strategy to Your Industry’s Rules of Engagement”


  1. 1 Ayelet (aka Blonde 2.0) September 25, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Hi Kfir:

    Thanks for the mention!
    I understand your point regarding public vs private online identities and yet I do believe more and more companies are beginning to understand that the boundaries between our personal and public lives are slowly disintegrating in this Web 2.0 age.

  2. 2 Barlow Keener September 29, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Kfir, I completely agree with you. One item of note for those who are not aware, for example, is that employers now check facebook and myspace to see what their potential employees are “really” like. If there is inappropriate behavior shown in facebook photos or comments, the employer may think twice. They do not want this same behavior at their company. Also, it is a good idea in general for many to put some distance between home and work. This is helpful for a variety of reasons. My grandmother used to say: don’t talk about religion and politics at the dinner table (she was a right-wing republican). At a dinner with a client the same is true. You are interested in helping the client with the client’s problem and solution, but not in creating distance with your politics and religion. So it is good to create a professional profile that will give clients confidence in your professional ability and not judge you with regard your personal preferences.

  3. 3 Kfir Pravda September 30, 2007 at 12:42 am

    Barlow – I agree with every word.

  4. 4 Asaf Lev October 7, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Since I’m quite new to this world, I started thinking like Barlow and slowly moving toward Ayelet’s point of view. I do believe that as time goes by, more people and organizations understand that there is no real clear boundries. From people who joined me as friends and my group (refresh07), it was surprising that although I wrote about so-called-not-professional issues such as yoga, quite senior people accepted it. It is a kind of prudent, to say something like “I need his knowledge but not his photo with the kids on the beach”, everybody are going to the beach with their kids, don’t be so anal.
    I do agree though, that some things should stay private, not because of professionalism, but rather because not everybody needs to know everything all the time.

  5. 5 Kfir Pravda October 7, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Asaf, thanks for you comment. I think that we all agree that one needs to add personal info to his profile (now can see mine, and it has some info like that). I think that the real questions are:
    1. Does more information always bring benefit, regardless of industry? My thoughts is that it should be viewed as part of your industry’s rules of engagement.
    2. Is there a red line you shouldn’t cross? I believe that there is one, and it is very simple – whatever you put there, know that almost anyone can see.


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