How much should you share or not share online? That’s certainly a decent question of the decade.
Companies want us to share. By now, I suspect most users know this.
Furthermore, my guess is people would probably agree that very private information like banking, medical, and so forth should be kept from prying eyes. On the flip side, the validity of sharing not-so-private information varies greatly from person-to-person.
What type of sharing styles are there?
Here are my thoughts on the four types of social media sharing:
- Share Nothing
- Share Unintentionally
- Share Everything
- Share Methodically
Many people intentionally avoid sharing their information online. No Facebook, no LinkedIn, no Twitter, no blog, no nothing. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this and perhaps it is even admirable that there are people who can resist the social media sharing temptation. My question, is there value in not sharing? Or, perhaps, is there a loss of value by not sharing?
- Upside: Embarrassing content can be minimized and reduced chances of stalkers.
- Downside: Reduction in networking opportunities. How much privacy is worth the cost of lost opportunities?
I would wager that many of the people who intentionally choose not to share, inadvertently have stuff shared online. Everybody is a paparazzi. Pictures of non-sharers are uploaded, tagged, disseminated. Significant others mention non-sharers, and so forth. My personal opinion is that by not representing yourself and having others doing the sharing you are likely in a more delicate position than if you just shared and controlled the items yourself.
- Upside: You do not have to manage anything. People can find you that you do have a personally all the while you do not have to maintain a social media account.
- Downside: That wild party you didn’t think was going to make it online? Well somebody shared it with somebody who shared it with another, and you may be out of the loop in realizing this.
(College kids + party + camera) * Facebook = Trouble
- Upside: Your life is an open book.
- Downside: Your life is an open book.
Judicious choosing of what and what not to share. I suspect most online users probably want to be in this category. I propose two subsets of this:
You have a Facebook account, perhaps a LinkedIn account. Maybe a Twitter one. You are choosy with whom you friend and what you share. Not many posts, not many pictures. You exist, but you don’t stand out. Not a bad place to be if you want to socialize, but not worry what the greater world-wide-web thinks of you.
- Upside: Basic networking opportunities. Connect with family, friends, colleagues, and potential employers.
- Downside: Passive more than active. You may allow your personal life to leak onto the net, but you are not actively pushing it; you are not a self-marketer.
This is where many social media mavens are at. Lots of sharing; you know their opinions and thoughts (good or bad) on things. You know them, but never met them. I can do an internet search on you and learn a good deal. This requires active management. Your personality is online.
This makes a great deal of sense for celebrities. But, what about me and you, the everyday internet user?
- Upside: Networking effects. Employment and other opportunities may seek you out. You may be perceived as an expert of sorts.
- Downside: Requires lots of work. May be difficult for people working full-time (or more) to actively manage an online lifestyle. Chances are if you are considering this, you probably want to go full-blast and do it right, or don’t do it at all.
What type of social media sharing works for you? Is there really a best type of sharing that fits all people?
Personally, I am comfortable sharing a great deal about myself. On the one hand, I choose not to take online stands on touchy topics, but on the other hand I think there is value in opening yourself up to the internet. Enabling others to learn more about you can be a good thing.
Physical interaction is best. Virtual interaction, though, isn’t too shabby.