One of the first posts that I read when I really started blogging a lot was a post by a woman who was coming out in the open about the fact that she was being physically abused by her husband. I read it and experienced a myriad of thoughts. First, I thought it was really great that she was airing her family’s dirty laundry so that she could let other people know that they were not alone. Then I saw it being retweeted all over Twitter, and I thought, “Hmm…what if it ends up in the wrong hands because of all of that retweeting?” Then I thought, “I feel kind of weird knowing that much detail about a person I don’t actually know at all.”

The seduction of many comments

The super personal posts in Social Media are kind of like sirens. They sing to you and say, “Ohhh, you’ll get such good traffic from this. So many comments.” And often times, it’s true. The other nice thing about personal posts, and I think why a lot of people write and publish them, is that they take care of that whole “be human” thing you hear so much about online. If you write about a serious illness, the death of a loved one, or some other major life-changing experience, you are showing people a side of you that has nothing to do with your business.

Then again, it has nothing to do with your business

Here’s where it starts to get a bit thorny for me. If you are out here representing a company, whether it’s your company or one you work for, are you fully weighing the possible ramifications of writing that super personal post? This is what I worry about for people new to the blogosphere.

You see, a lot of times, when you write a personal post, you attract readers that may not normally read your stuff. If you are writing about a struggle with Cancer, for example, you may get readers who are suffering through the same fight. If you’re writing about child abuse, you’ll probably get visitors who are touched by that subject in some way. But if your profession does not have to do with those issues, your new visitors will eventually melt away as you get back to business. You won’t keep them around for the long haul.

It likely will not bump your sales.

The other thing I worry about when I read super personal posts sometimes is that you might be revealing things that could come back to bite you. If you write that your health is really bad, is it possible that someone might say, “Well, that doesn’t seem like a sturdy situation right now – I’m going to hold back.” If you write about something super personal that your friends or family or co-workers didn’t know about, will that come back to haunt you?

Be careful

Of course, I don’t think that personal posts are “bad” or “wrong.” I’m just saying that it can be tempting to send one out into the world after you watch the 50th personal post get 500 comments. Make sure you think about it for 24 hours before you hit “publish.” Think about how you would react to it if you didn’t know you – because a lot of people who read it won’t know you. Think about possible ramifications. Weigh those against possible benefits.

Make sense?

image by Darko Skender.