Whether I'm on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or any other social network - where people are meant to be people and businesses are meant to be businesses, when I see a personal profile being used as a business, it makes me fall to my knees and gasp for air - sometimes I even cry a little bit.

OK, so I'm being more than a little melodramatic to get your attention, but if you are guilty - you're making a really big mistake. Not only in regard to my health, but your own networking and marketing health are suffering. Mark my words!

Look, I'm all for breaking rules to be avant gardeand stake a claim in cyberspace. But misusing profiles isn't the way to do that.. it just makes you look like you don't know what you're doing. The rules of social engagement call for respect of user agreements.

Some 'Don'ts' from the LinkedIn User Agreement (10. LINKEDIN USER DOS and DONTS.)

  • Don't create a user profile for anyone other than a natural person
  • Don't upload a profile image that is not your likeness or a head-shot photo
  • Don't invite people you do not know to join your network (this one is just plain asinine, against the rules of social engagement and doesn't count - must be a left over April Fool's Day prank )

What would better suit your needs is a Company Page.

LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook have specific provisions for company pages. Twitter on the other hand functions quite differently and the best solution is to create separate personal and business accounts to strategically engage the twittersphere.

What's wrong with networking as a business rather than as a person?

When you 'hide' behind a company profile, rather than present yourself as a representative of the company, you'll find that you have to constantly police your attitude, sense of humor, distribution of content and personal relationships - because you are acting as the company. I can't say how many times I have seen a 'company' post something not in its best interest because the individual behind the posts had a 'personal' hat on and missed an opportunity to represent the company in the best possible light.

When you wear the company hat the content character must be purposeful, selective, targeted and engaging to the right audience - often meaning the general public. Think of it as being a billboard with potentially immense global reach (depending on how good you, your strategy and execution are). It should be the company's character that is promoted not the individual's. That's a heavy responsibility.

Managing your personal online presence is also critical matter - if you care, and you should. It's expected an individual - regardless of how high up the food chain they are, has a unique personal style, character, sense of humor, off the cuff comments, candid moments, personal conversations, photos, etc. You can be the CEO and post about your family, vacation, what you had for lunch, and personal opinion, and it cancrystallizethe essence of 'social networking' and make you human and approachable - something that hiding behind a logo cannot do.

Can you see now why posting personal content directly under the company banner just doesn't do the company any justice at all and it's important to have both personal and corporate identities?

P.S. Don't bother considering that I am being inappropriate with the inhaler here... I'm all too familiar.



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