Professionalism vs Personal touch on social media?

A couple of weeks back, I posted this statement on Twitter >

It’s always hard to know what kind of response a tweet will garner. This attracted a fair amount of comment, from a lot of people in the L&D space. I’d recommend reading the many responses to the tweet.

What was I basing this statement on? The open nature of social media. What does this mean? I mean the way that social media means you are more than your brand, and we can understand so much more about each other based on what is available in the social space.

Let’s look at this from a different point of view. These days on social media we see big brands making a lot of effort to be more human and more personal in the online and digital space. They have teams of people who actively respond to complaints so that customers know they are dealing with a real person. They spend a lot of money on PR and marketing of their CSR efforts, their diversity and inclusion agendas, their various initiatives / activities to improve local community / society, and even their political stances where it makes sense for them to do that.

When that happens – do we see the brands as being less professional? Do we see them as being less credible?

Importantly – why are big brands trying to make the effort to be more human in the social space?

But, independent consultants (seemingly) struggle with sharing their personal stuff online. By personal stuff, I don’t mean family or friends stuff. I mean things like the big brands make big efforts to talk about:

  • What are your political beliefs?
  • What are your thoughts on LGBTQ+?
  • What are your thoughts on sexism?
  • What are your values?
  • How does any and all of this show up in the design of work you do?

These things matter. We don’t live in bubbles where these things are only private matters not to be shared with the world. That way of operating is long done with. Politicians and public figures take to the likes of Twitter to air their opinions about all these topics and more. We don’t live in an age where only if you’re a professional commentator are we allowed to hear your perspectives on life.

In my social network feed I have people – consultants – commentating on:

  • Menopause
  • Mental health
  • Day to day life
  • War
  • Politics
  • Family life
  • LGBTQ+ issues
  • Sexism

And I value each and every opinion in this vain. It lets me know what these individuals stand for. What they believe. Their posts help me to know if I think the same. If my own thinking needs to be challenged. It’s important because it lets me know if they’re the kind of person I want to create a longer lasting relationship/friendship with. Not because we might do business with one another in the future – but because they’ve made themselves more human.

It’s an interesting ongoing space to balance. I’m clearly advocating for more openness of opinion from consultants. But that’s not easy to do. Sometimes we may want to say something, but can’t find the words. Sometimes we have an opinion but fear what others might respond with. Sometimes we just don’t like the person and turn off from what say. Sometimes people struggle with the content because it triggers or provokes a visceral reaction. And there may be more besides.

As always, I’m interested in knowing your opinions. Either here on the blog, or over on Twitter or LinkedIn.


Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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