POINT/COUNTERPOINT: Should You ¢‚Ǩ≈ìCross Streams When Youre A Social Media Professional?

This post is part of a series of point/counterpoint arguments proposed by different members of the Pixels & Pills staff. Were strong believers that healthy arguments can yield the best solutions, and we hope that you enjoy our series. Feel free to add your own arguments in the comments section below!

by Jason Brandt (@jasondmg3)

As Egon Spengler told us in “Ghostbusters, “crossing the streams was a horrific tactical error, one which would create a terrifying explosion of undreamed-of power and destruction. “Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light, he explained.

Thats how a lot of people feel about mixing business and personal personas. Nothing comes of “crossing the streams except chaos and disaster. Social-media professionals – those of us in the communications and marketing fields who work largely in social digital venues -cross the streams” between personal and business social networking at our peril, and that of our brand. As a result, some people, in representing their brand to the world, put on a brand hat so big that they hide underneath it completely.
In my opinion, all that gives you is a boring hat. I want a hat thats walking around with a living, breathing, interesting person underneath it. This is what makes the company real: a warm fuzzy personal face. That’s the whole point of social media. Its social. It has personality and feeling and humanity. If all I wanted to see was the brand hat, Id go to Wikipedia or to your website.

There is, of course, inherent risk with the personal nature of social-media marketing. If you tie the online brand to one person, you risk losing your whole brand if that person leaves. Or, perhaps worse, if they disgrace themselves somehow, they take the brand down with them.

That simply reinforces why it must be done astutely. Social media is a delicate mix of informal conversation and careful consideration. Deliberation and silliness are never a more necessary couple than when trying to conduct yourself in social channels. Your brand is represented by a person, but your brand isnt just one person.

One great example of this? Tony Hsieh. He is the Zappos dude, but Zappos culture and customer service is bigger than him.

One example to watch? Apple. Is their drive and idealism and vision the companys, or did that die with Steve Jobs? The next few years will tell us.

To return to the “Ghostbustersmetaphor, do you remember what happened at the end of the movie? (If for some awful reason you havent seen this cinema classic, Ill wait here while yougo and do that now.)

The state of affairs had gotten desperate. The old ways werent working. People had made mistakes. Nothing they were trying was stopping things from getting worse. As a last resort, they crossed the streams. This new way of doing things, taking their individual energy and combining it in this new and scary way, was finally enough to save the day.

Should you take all your life lessons and business acumen from Ray, Winston, Egon and Dr. Peter Venkman? Well, maybe not. (Although, if someone asks if youre a god? Say yes.) But in this case – go ahead. Cross the streams. Dare to be yourself as well as your brand.




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