It’s a bright and sunshiny day and you’re on your way to meet a prospect. You have your company’s portfolio, you’ve dressed the best way you know how, and you even brushed your teeth and combed your hair. You have so many butterflies you’re thinking about donating all of them to an arboretum. Then suddenly you’re there in the office waiting to get your meeting. You’re called in. You shake hands and sit down, and then suddenly you say, “I have my colonoscopy results here. Would you like to see them?”
This probably is not super likely to happen in the “real world,” and yet I see a lot of professional/corporate blogs that seem to operate in just this kind of scenario. The blog looks great, there’s a lot of helpful content, so I decide to check it out. Then all of a sudden I’m reading something that kind of makes me want to poke my eyes out. I was visiting you for business and now I’m reading something I wouldn’t necessarily want to know about my best friend.
So what’s the scoop here?
Forget about “professional brand” and “personal brand”
Often this conversation gets us into the “brand” jungle. If you want to “build your personal brand” you need to be really, well, personal. I’ve never really bought this line of thinking when it comes to people who are in the blogosphere for business, however.
It’s my opinion that when you are out here in the social media world, you ARE being the face of your brand. When someone thinks of your company, they now can say, “Oh yeah, so and so works there.” That does not mean that that person needs to think, “Ah yes…that company is where so and so works. Did you know that that person had a wart problem for the first 30 years of her life and that sometimes she really enjoys picking her nose?”
If you are blogging for business, logic states that your ultimate goal is to use your blog to somehow build or strengthen your business. That means your corporate blog should not be about you. It can be written in a personable tonality and it can include stories that help bring your posts to life, but over-sharing is not always a great way to bring people in. In fact, sometimes over-sharing can be a good way to keep people out.
For example, let’s say you decide to write a post, as a CEO, about how poor your health has been. You’ve been in and out of the hospital for the last 3 years, you’ve missed a ton of work, and it’s just wearing you down. As a blog post, this will probably drive a lot of traffic to your site and you’ll probably get a lot of comments, too. But what message does this send to a person considering doing business with you? No matter how hard we try to think otherwise, the message being sent here is, “Maybe I shouldn’t start building a business relationship with you right now.” That person may even leave a wonderful comment for you. But so far as your business is concerned, you may not be doing yourself any favors.
“I know who I want to attract”
A common argument in support of blogging about whatever you want to blog about is, “Well, I know what kinds of people I want to work with. If you’re offended by what I write, we probably wouldn’t have gotten along anyway.” That can most certainly work for some people, but during these trying economic times not everyone can afford to pick and choose. Money looks the same and spends the same no matter who you get it from, and I’d even go so far as to argue that part of the fun of business is learning how to get along with people who might be different from you. If you’re strongly religious, it might be good, as a business person, to learn how to function with those darned pagan types. If you’re a “liberal lefty” it might do you some good to learn how to operate efficiently with a far right Republican.
Why limit yourself to “who I like to work with”? This has never seemed entirely realistic to me. In fact, I might even go so far as to call it unrealistic or even bad advice.
Of course, I’m always open to hearing other opinions. I expect to in this case as this tends to be a hot button issue in bloggy world. So – voice away!
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