I just returned from a wonderful week-long European trip to Amsterdam and Spain where I ran several workshops on social media and Internet marketing for the Computer Brokers Exchange conference. I loved it. I love Europe. I love the people – the culture – and the exciting business opportunities.
But to me Europeans seem very different in their view of social media. Many issues were raised concerning privacy and personal information being so public. Which baffles me on a continent that (at least according to US standards) is very open and progressive with regard to alcohol, smoking, sexual expression, nudity and other typically American social taboos.
Using a “personal” platform like Facebook for professional use is inconceivable for many of the Europeans I spoke with. Many in my audience simply could not imagine being so personal in business that you would interact on Facebook with other business people.
LinkedIn is a completely different story. No one seemed to have an issue with connecting there. In fact my workshop about LinkedIn was received enthusiastically.
I’m trying to isolate the issue. Are Europeans more sensitive with personal information, or are they six months to a year behind the US in embracing the social media work/personal life blend? Or are Americans too open and prone to over sharing?
Can’t say for sure. I’m guessing that it’s a little of all of these. What do you think?
While waiting for my plane at Schipol Airport, I bought a copy of Richard Branson’s book Business Stripped Bare. He spends a lot of time talking about personalizing business and really connecting with people as humans first, business partners second. It reminds me of another book, Trust Agents by my friend Chris Brogan.
Here’s what I do know.
The days of the corporate faceless interaction with customers is dead and gone. Yes – there are remnants of this old model of business – but good luck sustaining that.
Instead I would encourage you to focus on the human aspect of business. Technology allows us to be both professional AND personal. So why not do this in your business? What’s the downside?
What do you think? Are Europeans simply “catching up” or do you think we will see a consistent backlash and hesitancy to use “personal” social media tools like Twitter and Facebook for business?
And what do you think about humanizing and personalizing business using Facebook and other social media tools? Do you think that it’s okay to use personal tools and methods to really connect with those that you interact with professionally?
Leave a comment below and let me know.
Joel Mark Witt is the Publisher of Folk Media. He is a producer, author, speaker and social media marketing coach who consults with businesses and nonprofits on how to use social media in marketing and communications. Get more from Joel on Twitter or Google Buzz.
*Photo by Samantha Decker