via pinterest from paperplateandplane.wordpress.com
Of all things, this commercial for the Toyota Venza sparked a conversation between my family members about staying connected through social media. The commercial shows a young woman sitting at her computer mocking her parents for their 19 friend Facebook accounts. Meanwhile her parents are out enjoying the day, biking and riding in their new Venza, while she talks about a dog photo her friend posted, alone.
My family stands divided. While my mom and I are avid users of social media sites—both in our personal and professional lives—my sister and dad protest against using any of the networks. Their argument: the people I want to stay connected with already know how to contact me without using social media sites.
As of now, we are family divided—two members who are “pro” using social media to stay connected and two members who only see the “cons.”
Pro: Staying Connected
I have been using various forms of social media for many years. It started in college using tools like Facebook to stay connected to friends, family and new college acquaintances. It’s grown to be apart of my everyday life, both personally and professionally. We use it here at Elements to help keep our friends and clients up-to-date on what we have going on using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and our blog. We also help our clients formulate social media strategies to maximize their business and build a digital presence. Work aside, I use it to stay connected to my friends, family and past colleagues. It’s also a one-stop shop for all my favorite “likes.” I am a fan of musical artists, clothing companies, television shows and more. Opening up my news feed is like my own personal news station telling me about all my interests.
My mom owns a dance studio and she has one Facebook account that she uses for both professional and personal use (although I have advised against this). Personally, she has been excited to find a lot of her old friends and has enjoyed catching up with them but she has also been using it as a business tool. She uses it to updates her students and parents on upcoming class schedules, events and studio news. Of course, there is a downside as well. Many of her young students have been friending her and sending countless application requests, checking her in places and tagging her in photos. Because of this, she has had to implement a social media policy with her employees. She “strongly suggests” that they do not accept friend requests from students and if they do, they should block most of their personal content.
Con: Being Overly Connected
From the point-of-view of my dad (a non-social media user) he argues that yes, it would be nice to connect easily with his friends, but “why can’t I just use email for that?” Yes, Dad, you can use email. But do you have all of your friends email? Wouldn’t it be nice to connect with your old band-mates that live in different states or with your family that lives abroad? I asked him these questions and he shrugged them off. “I haven’t talked to them for this long, why start now?” In fact, he enjoys being able to control who can talk to him, and who can’t, by just using his email.
My sister is a 29-year-old social media rebel who enjoys flying below the radar. She has a close-knit group of friends who have a daily email chain and a weekly wine night. But because she doesn’t have social media, she seems less accessible to the outside world. I can’t count how many times people ask me, “What’s your sister up to and why doesn’t she have Facebook?” While she missed out on her high school reunion since the invitation was through Facebook only—she has valid reasons of keeping herself off of social media. She has seen more then one person not get a job because of something an employer found on a social media site. She has had a client see pictures of her on someone else’s Facebook and said “looks like you were partying hard this weekend!” She has even had clients confront her for “blocking” them on Facebook and Twitter since they couldn’t find her on the sites.
The benefits of staying connected, both personally professionally, have been widely debated. Whatever side you’re on, I advise making your professional and personal social media platforms as separate as possible. Having your friends, family, clients or co-workers clearly aware of what social media line they should contact you through will be very beneficial.
What side are you on? Or, do you mix both your personal side with your business? How do you find ways of staying connected – or, disconnected?