Social networks: all-business, all-the-time

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Whilst I am personally a great believer in presenting a consistent face on the web otherwise you have your own personal version of the Tiger Woods story in the making. However I have noticed a number of discussions of which ‘How to create a business-friendly Facebook profile‘ on Web Worker Daily was just the latest at the time of writing, as part of a movement to become all-business, all-the-time online.

facebook public profile

You would be likely to tell me something along the lines of duh, that’s because we’re in a recession and everyone is extremely scared about how they will be able to make next month’s mortgage payments, car loan payment or keep the bailiff from the door.

True enough, self- identity and generation-Y bolshiness can get smacked down in an economic recession – conform-and-get-paid. That’s the reason why punk outfits became a lot less common right at the end of the 1970s and early 80s; instead many of them became Next or M&S-wearing suited insurance salespeople, estate agents and probably a few PR people in there.

The thing I find interesting about this change in consumer behaviour is that it demolishes social network’s context. LinkedIn is a professional site and will continue to be a professional site, but Facebook and Twitter are having to be sent to detox and given a sanitised makeover. Instead of augmenting all aspects of your life with social media based on personal or professional faces social networks are moving towards being a professional persona for many people.

So how does this affect consumers interaction with social causes?

  • Should you unfriend Friends of The Earth in case Exxon Mobil have a vacancy in their accounts department?
  • Does your use of The Dogs Trust application show a HR professional that are likely to have a canine friend who will encourage you to want work-life balance rather than total dedication?
  • She may be your Auntie but will prospective employees think that you are a less attractive version of Friends Phoebe for being a fan of her ‘quirky’ alternative medicines business?

Lastly, what does it mean to brands that want to interact with consumers, now that their social network demeanour is that of the rational-thinking professional rather than their irrational, hedonistic, risk-taking self?