How Much Should We Share?

There’s a lot of forces that factor into what I do online, from my day job, expectations from the market, personal relationships and client relationships. In fact, I have some specific rules about how I blog, and even how I tweet. This last glorious weekend of sun and surf, I gave up just talking about web strategy, and extended the discussion to my personal life.

What’s interesting is that people react differently to me when I share my personal life (I am an individual, despite that I’ve dedicated most of my life to my career and family). I like Rex’s take, who had enough, and was thoughtful enough to say he didn’t want to hear about my personal life on Twitter. What’s important to me, may not be important to him, and I get that.

There’s a couple of potential solutions:

1) Do what I want, and tweet about what’s important to me during work, and what’s important to me after work. Battlestar Galactica and @goodboyrumba and all.
2) Just make my Twitter account for business and create a separate one for personal (more and more of my family is joining Twitter)
3) Wait for Twitter to offer permission based tweets around our different facets of our persona (work vs personal vs public).

It’s quite the conundrum. When I asked folks on Twitter, how much personal should I share, it was pretty even split. Some want to know more about the man behind web strategy, some just want all web strategy signal. On the other hand, we teach companies to show a bit of their human side to the market –but no one cares about what you ate for lunch.

I’m going to throw this one back to you, the readers, and do be honest. How much of my personal life do you care to hear from folks you’ve come to rely on for business information? Perhaps the bigger question is, how much of our personal lives should we share with our work? Is there a difference?

Update: Rex has a new blog post, All work makes Jack a dull boy, he’s read many of the comments on my post and his, for the most part we’re in agreement: mixture is needed, but better tools could help those filter content.

  • http://www.ireflectm.com Carlos Hernandez

    Jeremiah,

    I have been wrestling with this phenomena too.

    I consider you to be a mentor and aim to learn how you decide to share your personal life on Twitter. Therefore, my vote is for you to keep on teaching the community.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Carlos, I learn a lot from you too, thanks!

  • http://www.ireflectm.com Carlos Hernandez

    Jeremiah,

    Here is the NY Times Magazine article “The Chatty Classes” which offers the perspective that “The capital might be a better place if it became a Twitter-free zone, a city where people spent more time talking to the guy serving the coffee and less time informing the world that the coffee had, in fact, been served.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/magazine/26wwln-lede-t.html

    I love doing face-to-face and Twitter conversations. I had the pleasure of meeting Evan Williams, Twitter’s CEO and Founder at a meet-up several weeks ago and thanked him for “getting this ol’ guy back into the game!”.

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  • http://falkayn.blogspot.com Angus McDonald

    Jeremiah,

    I think by sharing your personal life you validate your professional comments – after all who we are as people influences our work and especially our opinions. Learning that your grandfather was a Chinese-American aviator in WWII tells me that you probably grew up in American culture, rather than just moving there later in life. That probably affects your opinions on the social web, whilst your family connections to Germany and China offer you a different slice of life.

    Twitter is also more personal than work, less like LinkedIn more like Facebook (without the high bandwidth). However, I follow your tweets for your smart ideas – but getting personal flavour in there is cool provided it does not overwhelm or go suddenly higher/lower in volume (I think that how often you tweet is a matter of etiquette on Twitter).

    Regards,
    Angus McDonald

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Thank you Angus, that’s reaffirming.

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  • http://www.justanother24hours.com/ Daniel

    Personal responses to 'What are you doing?' can be useful and actionable. For example, I may tweet about the music I am listening to or name the restaurant and food that served me lunch and include a comment on the quality of it. People who trust my judgement may chose to investigate.

    A personal and a professional profile would be the way to go IMO for someone using Twitter as a means to connect with a network of friends.

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  • http://www.bedroomfurniturewhs.com/ Platform Beds

    I agree with this article! You should have a separate social media account 1 personally and 1 for business to avoid any conflict or any personal/business information from leaking.

  • Megancrudgington

    I think that we all ahould share I mean if we do not share how will other people get a chance at things there is always an answer with sharing

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