26 Apr

Do they want you, or your contacts? (updated)

We’ve all heard the phrase – it’s not what you know, but who you know.

But: if your job involves promotion/marketing – where do you draw the line between your friends, and your contacts?

In this social-networking world we find we have more contacts than ever before. Many are perhaps real-life friends from school or university, but others may be people you met briefly at a party back in 2007 or, perhaps, you’ve never met them.

For PR professionals, a wide circle of influence is vital: being able to pull celebrities to an event, get column-inches in the right magazines and make sure the song is played on every radio station. Social networks  increase that circle even further, but unless you run a strict friends/work division online, your friends soon become your professional audience.

I am seeing more and more examples of people being expected to use using their personal social network accounts to promote the product. Are companies employing people because of the size of their friends list? And more’s the point – SHOULD we be expected to use our friends, for our employer?

I admit I am guilty of using my personal social networks to promote my DJing work, but I feel this is acceptable to a point as it is “ME” doing it .. but recently I was asked to promote an 3rd party event through my own accounts. I balked slightly, reluctant to thrust this event onto my friends, relatives and acquaintances.

By the very nature that some people will use their friends as social (and business) currency, does it prove the point that contacts ain’t what they used to be?

3 thoughts on “Do they want you, or your contacts? (updated)

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  2. I think it’s fair enough to recognise that your visible social networks are going to increasingly be part of the ‘assets’ that you bring into jobs. The advantage of course is that you can take them away with you as well. And employers will increasingly go for someone who is well established in the community they are targeting over someone who has to start from scratch.

    But as you say there comes an ethical decision regarding how you relate to a community once you are being paid to do so – and I guess that’s about having a long-term view where you argue: “I’m not going to send this to my social network because I don’t believe it’s useful to them or to you in the long term”. An alternative might be to simply tell a social network “I’m being asked to promote X at the moment…” rather than simply spamming how great X is.

  3. Keeping your social media life and work life separate is incredibly hard. Although I have a number of journalists on my twitter account (not including actual publications such as @birmghampost who I follow) many of my contacts stay in my purple address book.

    My facebook tends to be littered with old school friends, and although I have over 424 friends, there are probably less than 50 who I talk to regularly.

    I am however guilty of publishing my work on Facebook – not so much because my company has forced, but geekily because I’m proud of what I do. If I get an article printed online or in a national I’ll usually shout it from the rafters (sad I know).

    I do enjoy my networking, which I think any organisation appreciates. It show’s a willingness to go that extra mile to get the results however I don’t think I was employed because of the size of my address book.

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