I was approached by a friend with an idea. It went along the lines of “What if we get a group together to promote this cause ….” and from that point on my imagination soared with what-ifs and can-we’s.

And I wondered about the can of worms we might be opening.

Those of you in Facebook know from experience that when someone who is your “friend” joins a cause, everyone gets a notice about it. After awhile, we begin to get a sense of what our friends are interested in, besides work. We can gauge how well matched we are, how different we might be from each other and see sides of friends we never knew about.

Also, in Facebook, we get alerts whenever someone signs up to be a fan of someone or something. We pick who is the “Most Beautiful”, “Who is Funniest”, and rate everything from smiles to who we’d like to marry. Some of it’s fun and games. Some of it is honest insight, such as when a friend backs a certain politician and it’s announced to everyone on their friends list.

When you do business with peers or are friends with CEO’s and company owners who have Facebook pages and profiles, is there a point where you think to yourself, “I didn’t need to know that” when they post something they’ve joined? If someone’s “status” is, “I’m naked in bed with my laptop”, is this TMI (Too Much Information)?

I remember how freeing it was when Threadwatch ran a long thread a few years back about SEO’s who work from home. It was a coming out party of men and a few women who admitted to working naked or in their PJ’s, odd hours and in varying environments, from home to Starbucks to heck, likely a few bars.

Is Social Networking Coming at a Price?

The social media networking phase of the Internet experience has allowed us to meet and talk to each other. It also lets us share bits and pieces of ourselves as if we were eating lunch at the same table at school and sitting with our group, or attending a company picnic and throwing horse shoes with fellow employees.

In other words, we’re starting to hang out together, as well as also doing business with each other. We’re moving beyond a professional networking, spell checked, politically correct version of ourselves and into a “This is the real me” version, where we’re more willing to share our interests and life events outside of work.

Instead of rows and rows of employment “cube farms” where you pop up over the wall to share potato chips with your neighbor and gossip about the manager, there’s now IM and Twitter. It’s easy to type that spontaneous thought begging to be leaked out and in seconds, it’s out there and going all over the place to who knows who?

Does this matter?

If a group of your industry peers banded together to support a cause you don’t believe in, would you not do business with them?

If a group of your industry peers supported a political view or candidate, set up a web site and promoted themselves as supporters, and you strongly disagree with that view or candidate, would you feel differently about them? Enough to not associate with them? Work with them? Refer work to them?

In some ways, this is like joining a forums where you feel you fit. You like how you’re treated there and the people have similar beliefs or attitudes as you do. I’m reminded of blog writing, when we had asked if it’s proper to write about our personal lives in our business or professional blogs.

Whenever we remove our mask and people see the real us, there’s a risk. How much of yourself are you willing to reveal? Is it important to doing business online?

What do you think? Does someone’s choices in their personal life alter your opinion of their business services?

Would you have the courage to stand up and defend a cause you believe in, and bring attention to it in your web site or blog if you could, even though it has nothing to do with your business, products or services?

Added: Discussion Could What You Stand Up For Detract From Your Reputation?

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Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101


American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)