“I understand and agree with the fact that we need to be active on social media, but I really don’t like using it personally. How can I get around that?” I was asked this question the other day, and not for the first time.
The social media world seems to be going the way of expected ubiquity where it is becoming “the norm” to have a Facebook account, a Google Plus profile, a Twitter or LinkedIn account. 15 years ago, if you wanted to email someone, you wouldn’t ask for their email address, you would ask if they had one. In fact a common question was, “Are you on the internet?” Nowadays, we expect everyone to have email just as we expect them to have a telephone number. We “google” for things when we want to search the internet. I bet somewhere in Mark Zuckerberg’s mind there is a desire for us to one day talk about “facebooking” each other.
Social signals are becoming an important factor for search engines when it comes to ranking pages in search results. Content quality can be qualified by the identity of the author and their network influence. Pinterest is heralded as a great way to gain exposure (and sales) for products; Facebook is now a platform offering a whole range of ways to reach and interact with a new audience; optimisation of your profile on LinkedIn can make a difference to how high you appear in Google results when someone searches for your name. All exciting stuff. But, what if you refuse to jump on to that social wagon, and you dislike the relentless rise of the trend for sharing every detail of your life with the wider world?
I know several marketing people who dislike Facebook or can’t be bothered to get into Twitter, while their companies extol the virtues of those same networks. There are ways to be social without being visible. Obviously it gives you more of a hill to climb, but it can be done. Here are some tips.
You can’t manage a Facebook page without having a Facebook profile, but your Facebook profile doesn’t have to be public and you can set maximum privacy on the account. People who like a Facebook business page don’t get to see who the administrators are (and I hope Facebook never changes this). You post as the page. You can even choose to be your brand everywhere on Facebook, so anyone interacting with you will be interacting with, and liking, your page, not your profile.
Google Plus privacy controls
Google Plus has a similar feature in that you can create a Google Plus business page and then use the network as that page. Additonally, the superb Circles functionality gives you granular control over the things you publish, allowing you to restrict content to individuals, groups, sets of groups etc, so you could stay fairly hidden.
Twitter allows you to have any username, so you could just make one up, or use a nickname or use a brand. Twitter works better with real people rather than brands, but there’s nothing to stop you hiding your identity on it. (Just don’t say horrid things about Tom Daley or threaten to blow up an airport).
As a business network, you would be crazy to sign up to LinkedIn with a fake profile or try to pretend to be someone else, but you can restrict who sees your data and of course you don’t have to connect with people. Your company should have a LinkedIn page, and you can encourage people to follow this page, which should be updated regularly with news and company information.