Blogs, ezines, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all great ways to disseminate information and let prospects get to know, like and trust you enough to want to spend money on your products and services. The more information you put out there, the more people can get to know you.
And not just professional advice and educational information. Personal information can be the key to turning you from a faceless internet marketer to a real person your prospects can relate to. I’ve heard countless stories of people who’ve experienced an explosion in their online business after sharing personal stories about themselves.
One man shared the story of his mentally challenged child, another took a trip around the world and wrote about his trip, Alexandria Brown wrote about her cats. Each of these online marketers experienced a flood of email and an explosion in sales after sharing personal information.
But when do you cross the line of TMI – too much information?
Sometimes it’s a judgment call but here are some examples:
1. Inappropriate Content
On Facebook, if someone sends me a Friend request, as a rule I accept – even though some people are rude and just send the default request message without including a personal note about how they found me. When someone makes such a request, I always visit their profile page to learn more about them and to send them a note so we can start networking.
The other day I accepted a Friend request and visited the man’s profile. On his wall were some sexually risqué comments and pictures.
They weren’t exactly obscene. In fact, if they’d been on a Facebook page of a high school friend I would probably have laughed and left a smart alec comment. But because this person was networking in a business context, it put me off. And I could easily see how some people might be offended by this.
If you’re using Facebook or other social media tools for business purposes, don’t include comments or images that you wouldn’t hang in your cubicle if you worked in a corporate setting. It should be obvious, but apparently not.
2. Advertising Valuables
My sister’s neighbor was the victim of a home invasion last year. Turned out he had advertised a valuable item for sale on Craigslist. He got a response and invited the person to his house. Instead of a buyer, two armed gunmen arrived at his door.
I’ve noticed a lot of people posting about their young children, complete with names, ages and photographs. In this day and age, with the number of sexual predators online, this practice worries me. I do write about my son from time to time, but you’ll notice I don’t mention his name, don’t talk about his age and don’t post photos. Odds are people reading my blog are not criminals, but why take the chance?
4. Irresponsible behaviour
While this example does not likely apply to Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs (I hope), it might apply to our children so take note.
I know of at least one recruiter who upon receiving a resume immediately checks out the applicant on Facebook. If the applicant’s profile has lots of inappropriate content and references to partying, drinking and drug use, the resume gets tossed. It doesn’t matter how qualified the applicant is, if their personal life sounds too wild, they don’t even get the chance to prove themselves in an interview.
These are just a few examples of where you can stray into putting too much information out there on the web. Remember, you never know who’s looking at your information. If you are using the internet for promoting your business, don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want a potential customer to see. If it’s there, I guarantee someone will find it.
Andrea J. Stenberg
Thanks for the post. I use the same guidelines as you do in writing about my daughters and grandchildren.
I write a boomer consumer blog called The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com.
I write a reader blog called the Boomer Consumer for the Seattle Post Intelligencer at http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/boomerconsumer/.
Thanks for the comment. Other than when you’re writing about your children and grandchildren, do you struggle with the question of how much is too much personal information online?
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I personally believe there is a motive to writing articles that only a few posses and frankly you have it , you genius.