I was recently posed the question: do you use social networks for business or personal use?
It's taken me some time now to accept and embrace the fact that there is no clear delineation between my "business" life and my "personal" life, whether this be in my activities, interests, or social networks. Social networks are made for connecting with people with similar interests - it's as simple as that. Relationships are relationships, and that person who you just signed up as a customer might also be your favorite dinner buddy, or family events might morph into a huge discussion about Internet marketing, or whatever your industry may be.
This actually showcases two interesting things about social networking:
Social media calls for transparency and authenticity.
Social media invites you to share your life, thoughts, and opinions. And for others to do the same. All in public. On top of that, to be "successful" in social networks, you need to be authentic - people want to connect with people, not brands or static profiles. For the controlling marketer, this public, somewhat unfiltered sharing that's going on - about their company or by their employees - can be really tough to deal with. You can't control social media, so the best you can do is be authentic and transparent about what's going on with you and your company.
You can connect with people on a variety of levels.
Because people are sharing their lives in social media, it's not all business, business, business. I know when someone is celebrating his daughter's birthday, or when someone else is going on a fishing trip with some college buddies. All of these are opportunities to connect with people on a personal level and, again, people are interested in connecting with people. When it comes to doing business, asking for advice, or what have you, you will have already developed a relationship based on common interests and trust.
As an interesting example of how social networks are breaking down the barriers between "business" and "pleasure", here's a snapshot of my news feed on facebook, a traditionally personal social network: on the left there's a news feed item that 11 of my friends - HubSpot colleagues - were tagged in an album, HubSpot's 2nd Birthday Party , while on the right there are status updates, two of them from twitter friends and only one from a high school friend.
The point is relationships are relationships, and you don't need - nor will you be able - to differentiate between your business contacts from your personal contacts. They are now one and the same and you can accept and embrace it and develop stronger connections with each, otherwise you are closing yourself to some really interesting opportunities.