Yesterday, Shanan Sorochynski asked a question here on WUL that struck a chord with quite a few people: “Are you using social media to talk to yourself?”
The comments are really interesting, and even though I mentioned it in my comment, it reminded me of Mary Barber’s post (also published yesterday) where she pondered aloud on whether we all see the world through our own respective filters.
My short answer: yes, but that’s not what I was thinking about when I sat down to write today’s post.
Shanan said something in her post that I wanted to riff off of:
“Initially I followed close friends and had a locked profile. Why? Because these were the days when we weren’t sure how Twitter was different than Facebook. So, we treated Twitter like Facebook, something for select eyes only.”
“Let’s connect …”
I started my fourth year of teaching at Johns Hopkins a couple of weeks ago, and as part of the “getting to know you” exercise, my students had to introduce themselves. I’d asked them to also post their Twitter handles and Google+ profiles, so that I could create a list and circle respectively for them.
When I clicked through to their Twitter profiles, I was struck by how many of them have protected profiles. That is, profiles where you can’t see their tweets easily, and have to send a “follow request” in order to be able to follow them (and thus, communicate with them).
I asked why, and of those who answered, they all said basically the same thing: that they were protective of their privacy, they wanted to separate personal from professional, they wanted to control the “spam” that showed up in their streams.
I think this is a really bad idea, particularly if you are a communication professional.
Now, I understand the desire to keep certain updates protected/private, but frankly, there is an easier solution to that … just don’t post anything that would have a negative impact on you.
I was not a fan of Twitter at first, and now I love it.
It has been the single-most important tool/medium in widening my circle of acquaintances and friends, growing my business, bringing me new clients, speaking opportunities, media opportunities … and none of that would have happened if I had a protected profile.
” … but don’t talk to me”
With a protected profile, the impression you’re giving to people is that you don’t want to talk to them. And Twitter is all about talking to other people.
There was a time I used to go through who was following me pretty regularly, so that I could follow them back. My M.O. used to be to click through to their profile, read their bio, follow their site/blog link, look at their timeline, and if, after doing all that, they seemed smart/interesting/unusual, I’d follow them.
(I’ve stopped doing this now and basically just follow back people who engage with me… and no, they don’t have to be following me first.)
If their profile was locked down, it didn’t matter how smart/interesting they might turn out to be.
The impression I had was that they either had something to hide, or that they weren’t really interested in what other people – perhaps out of their comfort zone, going back to Shanan’s post – had to say.
So why should I waste my time sending a follow request, only to find out it’s someone I really wouldn’t have been all that interested in to begin with?
There is only one way to start a conversation, and that is to talk to people.
And if you want people to listen to you, you have to give them a reason to do so. Say something interesting (which they won’t see if you have a protected profile), or show that you warrant interest (which they won’t know if you have a protected profile).
So if you are adamant about being on Twitter with a protected profile, I’d suggest you create a different (protected) profile for your really good friends/family/whatever circle you want but do not publicize that as your “real” Twitter profile.
Instead, make your current profile public – since that is already publicly associated with you – from which you talk to “everyone else” every day, from which you engage in relevant discussions, etc.
Or, if you’ve already posted stuff to your protected profile that you wouldn’t want all and sundry seeing, reverse the above. But you get what I mean.
Personally, this would drive me crazy … what, manage another profile?! (Btw, Sanjiva Persad wrote a very interesting post on having two Twitter accounts last year, and an update to that will be coming your way soon.)
No matter which social network you choose to spend time in, the primary reason is to get to know other people, right?
So why shoot yourself in the foot before you’ve even stepped in the door?
Image: maramillo via Flickr, CC 2.0
What do you think? Do you think there are advantages to having a protected Twitter profile? Do share, maybe you’ll change my mind!
That’s a great post, guys! I’ll definitely keep your tips in mind. You should check out this guide which gives you tips on how to create the perfect Twitter profile as well: https://tweetfavy.com/blog/2015/09/the-anatomy-of-a-perfect-twitter-profile/
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I used a quote from this blog post in my recent workshop on social media and online presence for students. It was relevant because most of the students were not on Twitter and I see that often times before we “love” Twitter, we are anti-Twitter. Super interesting.
@fatkine10 I’m being quoted now? Oh, SUPER kewl. :) Thanks!
@Shonali No problem! The workshop went really well! Check out the presentation at kinecamara.wordpress.com/smop1/
@fatkine10 Sweet, thank you!
@daniel_in_pr @socialmediainf @colleenrkennedy @jenncartmille Thank you for sharing and @tressalynne for sharing again!
@melissary loved the read!The whole point of twitter is to form new connections,I agree ppl are turned off if they have to request first.
@chrisbaileypr @daniel_in_pr @lisa_franklin @rdevinhughes @tressalynne Belated thanks for sharing!
agree MT @tressalynne I keep telling #PRstudents this…Why Protecting Your Twitter Profile=Bad Idea by @shonali http://t.co/OMOMZimS
All of my students are required to be on Twitter, follow me and their fellow classmates, and participate in a minimum of 4 relevant tweetchats per semester. (They turn in screenshots of their activity and I grade them.) The few who insist on keeping tweets protected soon learn the futility of doing so when trying to engage in a conversation on Twitter. I’ve also told them if they want to keep their school/professional tweeting separate from their social lives (especially if they engage in alternative lifestyle choices they may not want to share with potential employers) they should open up a second twitter account. Only one or two ever have, and it’s worked out just fine for everyone. They’re learning it’s an excellent tool for discussing class material, for sharing articles, and for networking with professionals in the field.
@Samjb That’s a great idea. I know barbaranixon is very proactive about getting her students on Twitter too. I’ve never thought about incorporating chats into my class… food for thought, for sure. Thanks so much for stopping by and sorry it took me a while to get here!
@themiddle @NealSchaffer @wittlake @arkarthick @allie_cooper @globallover2 Thanks so much for sharing!
Several times a week I pick up new followers who have protected tweets. I find it disturbing. It seems strange to follow me but not allow me to follow you.
Ok, I get that I can send a request to do so, but it still feels awkward and makes me wonder about you.
@TheJackB Yup. Me too.
Number one rule in social media today — if what you say will embarrass your mother/grandmother or would frighten you if it was a newspaper headline, please just don’t say it. My protected twitter friends are in two categories: 1) they aren’t really sure they want to be on Twitter so view this as a way to dip their toes in the water without really jumping in. They don’t realize they aren’t getting the full picture either. 2) They think no one can retweet them. Technically they’re correct…you can’t retweet, but you CAN quote which is basically the same thing.
Your post is good advice for these folks but I tend to doubt they’ll see it…because they’re afraid to venture outside their comfort zone. And Twitter is definitely outside that zone for many.
@mdbarber That is pretty ironic, huh?
@danielnewmanuv @cpitts @wisematize @DeniseWakeman Thanks for sharing!
A protected Twitter profile might as well not be on Twitter at all as far as I’m concerned. I have a couple of friends who have protected profiles, mostly because they’re trying to dodge a stalker. But most of them aren’t in any type of marketing, media or communications career. Even if they were, I get that. Other than that, what’s the point of being on if you’re just going to hide?
@Tinu Exactly. “I want you to know I’m here, but I’m not going to talk to you.” Ehm, what exactly is the point in that?
I would agree. It would be a terrible thing for any professional. I think it makes sense only when you have a Twitter profile for personal use wherein you just want to restrict your tweets to family and friends. P.S. Half the time we don’t really want our family to hear what we are saying so why bother anyway ;) Though privacy setting make much more sense in Facebook where sharing is more of personal things.
For twitter it is like, standing on your rooftop and screaming at the top of your lungs and then telling people to ask permission before coming and listening; or at least hoping so. Doesn’t make sense right?
If I scream I want others to hear it! :) That’s what we girls really want don’t we? ;)
@Hajra I had to laugh when I saw your comment about the family… so true!
I don’t want you to scream, Hajra – we need to make sure we’re not doing anything to make you scream!
@jasonyormark @shonali nice article, I used to protect my tweets when I first signed up too, http://t.co/7G1jko48.
@taylorjhall What made you change your mind? (And thank you!).
@shonali being in the communications field & applying for jobs that deal with social media, protected tweets sent the wrong message.
@ruudhein Thanks much for sharing.
@martinwaxman Thanks, Martin! And To @PatZahn @mmangen @fairuse @BrennerMichael @KDillabough too!
@shonali As you said, in a public medium, the responsibility for good judgment should fall on the individual
@shonali Welcome. :-)
@mmangen @shonali It’s only a bad idea to tell the public that you have a protected profile. Keep one just for friends, and one public.
@shonali Thanks. Yep, good ol Twitter, public. Hee hee, keep your secrets to yourself. @skypulsemedia
@chillygal @skypulsemedia @designspike Thanks for sharing!
@sandrasays @shdickson @harrisonpainter Thanks for sharing!
@lucasmillerwsu @bdorman264 @rachaelseda Thank you for sharing!
@iggypintado Thank you for sharing!
@HeatherAadahl Thanks for sharing @shonali ‘s post with @mk_otoole – GO #JMUdukes !
@HeatherAadahl Yes, thank you from me too! @mk_otoole cc @rachaelseda
@shonali @mk_otoole @rachaelseda Definitely! Such insightful information that we love to learn!
@rachaelseda @shonali @mk_otoole Thanks for posting! It completely applied to the social media panel we hosted Tuesday night #GoDukes!
@jennalanger can I please have my @livefyre comments protected. Thank you
@HowieSPM Maybe, but right now we print all of your comments and post them on the @livefyre wall in our office :)
Now to comment on the article…one of the things I like about Twitter, even if no one is listening to what I’m saying, is that I’m contributing to the pulse and conversation of the web. Maybe no one cares that I tweeted during the Super Bowl, but my tweet was part of 10k tweets/second. We now know a lot more about what the collective Twitterverse cares/talks about, even if someone isn’t reading my 140 characters. It’s the big picture that counts.
@jennalanger OMG, I can SO see you doing that! @HowieSPM See what a terror you are?
That’s a great point, Jenna, that even if no one’s listening, we’re still contributing. Definitely.
Love this post @Shonali . The reasons for protecting your tweets do not exist. I technically have 4 Twitter accounts and 3 or 4 Facebook accounts. anyone can create an alias to say what they want to say with no worries who sees what you say. Freedom is a good thing and we can all be free if we want to be.
@HowieSPM But you also have more energy than most people. AND, you’re the best ranter I know… actually, extremelyavg might give you competition on the ranting…
@jaskeller @kathikruse Thanks much for sharing!
Absolutely. In such a case, though, then I think you have to be very protective of your online identity overall. I know people who are very public about their battles with mental illness, for example, as well as those who are not.
On a personal level, I say to each their own. It’s when it comes to mixing in the professional side of things that I think this can be a detriment.
On security… that is something I have concerns about as well. I do use Foursquare, but I don’t “check in” all the time, and if I’m checking in somewhere close to my house, I tend not to broadcast it on Twitter (maybe Facebook, but I am much more selective about my FB friends).
I especially like this part of your comment, Design Spike – “get the ‘public’ profile out of the closet.” Hahahahah!!!
Colby, yes, and a similar point was made over at WUL (about “gurus” doing this).
What a timely post! I remember the days when I was weary about Twitter myself and like you, I now love it! There are many people I wouldn’t know – friends, events, opportunities and knowledge I would’ve missed out on if not for Twitter.
Every time I go home my Mom seems to ask me the same questions…”how do I make my computer faster, what is the difference between Twitter and Facebook, I don’t get Twitter- why do you use it”. I was explaining to her (again haha) why Twitter is (and should be) a more public medium than Facebook. That it’s awesome because you can learn from and follow anyone you’re interested in or who posts interesting things. And the point is to post or share stuff you find interesting, while also connecting with new people. Which is why you shouldn’t lock your profile even though people do.
It actually doesn’t surprise me that many of your students’ profiles are locked. But clearly it tells me they’re not using Twitter the way an aspiring communication professional should be, they’re using it as a college students with their friends. And like you said, fine do that if you wish…but get another account and maintain what I call a “real” account. I remember in college our professors telling us to be careful what you make public or what you put on your Facebook page at all because you don’t want your employer pulling it up. It was definitely good advice but guess what, if they don’t pull up anything about you…it also speaks volumes, especially as a communication professional.
I reminded my 15 year old cousin this weekend that she’s growing up in a time where she is posting her life online at a young age. When she’s 23 looking for a job, what she posted is most likely not what she wants and employer to see and it may not exactly be what she wants people to Google about her. I think it’s important that we start teaching our children how to navigate the internet at a young age. I most definitely think it needs to be a course like Math is in our curriculums.
Now that I’ve written a novel I will just say…..you shouldn’t post anything on Twitter that you want to hide or is TMI. Make it public, meet new people, use it to your advantage, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want the whole world to know about you, be safe about it and embrace learning new things!
@rachaelseda I love it when you write novels!
I think you hit the nail on the head with the students’ use of Twitter. What is even more interesting is that I teach a graduate class, not undergrads. So when I asked them to post their Twitter IDs, I simply assumed they would have gotten over the Twitter teething pains.
You make a real good point about reminding young people that what goes online, stays online. It’s a little sad that we have to do this… but I’d rather have the Internet as it is, warts and all, than not at all.
I’m seeing a few comments that seem to express a need for personal security rather than simply privacy. If that’s the case your closed Twitter account is a symptom of a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.
@Shanan YES. #thatisall My goodness, Shanan, what did you start with your post yesterday? :)
@Shonali Social media awesomeness, Shonali. Social media awesomeness. :)
@nicgibb Thanks so much for sharing!
@kellyrynard @tabithaedwards @kmueller62 @voxoptima @colbcox @mariam_kobras @SEOcopy Thanks much!
@shakirahdawud Exactly. Thanks, Shakirah!
@ericamallison Thanks, Erica!
@Reid Davis Point well-taken, although I think the purpose of Twitter is generally public use. It DID get me thinking that there may be room for a Twitter-like platform that is meant for more private or group-specific conversation. As much as we like to talk about linked, converging networks, I feel like there may be some room here for divergent platforms. One might ask why that would be necessary if Twitter has the capability to protect an account, but having to manage two accounts with one private and one public seems like a hassle. We should make a platform called Shh! where nobody can see what we write but our close warm friends.
shonali Good points made here. Twitter for COMM PROS should be public. I wonder if people think there is some sort of hot commodity-celebrity thing that comes with a protected account. Even if that were the case (seems might ego-driven to me) I bet they could accomplish the same thing by maintaining a low number of followers. @KirkHazlett @KenMueller I’m with you here. Social media pros SPECIFICALLY shouldn’t have locked accounts at this point in the Tweetoverse.
@Daniel J. Cohen Well, I will say, in @Reid Davis ‘ defense that to me, the purpose of Twitter is whatever you want it to be. If you want to use it to share #dinnertweet photos (like I do), fine. If you want to use it to share very personal stuf with only a select group of people, fine. But if we’re trying to use it to establish thought leadership, grow networks, etc…. how can we do that if people can’t see what we’re talking about?
And I laughed when I read “Shh!” – I think you may have just stumbled upon the next big thing, Dan. :p
@KirkHazlett @KenMueller Dan raises an interesting point about celeb-type behavior. What do you think about that?
@Shonali @Daniel J. Cohen @Reid Davis @KenMueller
I think Dan’s onto something here. Multiple (or even just dual) platforms will definitely complicate things, but that may be a viable option anyway. Love the “Shhh!” suggestion!
What is the point of protecting your profile especially if you are a communication/pr professional? If you’re there to lurk, fine, lurk. But be open about it. Or, as you point out, create a personal protected account for family & friends and get the “public” profile out of the closet.
If you tweet or mention your internet content (eg a blog) on twitter that has socially stigmatizing subject matter as (say mental illness) , then you may wish to keep your protected.There are people, with really no good reason, who will study connected internet accounts just to find out who you are — fact… not paranoia.If you choose to put content on the internet that you think is important, but is risky to your personal security or stigmatizing , then I it would its very good idea to keep your tweets protected.
I tweet about running. A lot of runners follow me. But I have to protect because I don’t want a certain person knowing when and where I’m running, nor do I wish to have the temptation to say things publicly directed at that person. It’s a sad situation, but there’s no other way for me to be on Twitter.
@Reid Davis Sounds like you have stalkers…? If that’s so, then my sympathies!
Like I said, I do respect everyone’s personal preferences… it’s just that particularly for our field (PR/Comms), and really I think for anyone who is trying to build their network in their own field, having a public Twitter profile just gives them fewer hoops to jump through.
Btw, @KenMueller tells me you’re a good guy… which I’d never have known since your profile is protected. :p
@Shonali@KenMueller Yes, a stalker. (Only one as far as I know.) I’d love to be 100% public, because my stuff would get a lot more pickup. It’s sadly not an option.
@Reid Davis Ugh. That’s horrid. Be safe. @KenMueller
Thanks. She’s only a danger to my marriage, not my life, but I still gotta stay hidden.
@Shonali@Reid Davis Obviously there are some times you need to do this. It sucks when it has to happen. And Reid, I promise to never stalk you.
@mariam_kobras afternoon sweet lady… thanks for RT cc @Mangeles21 mille grazie :)
@SEOcopy prego, Gabi! xoxoxo
@Mariam_Kobras @Mangeles21 and @SEOcopy thank you all!
@shonali thank YOU! I’ve been preaching the same thing to friends forever and ever! :)
@mariam_kobras Are they listening? ;)
@shonali nope. Sadly not. There’s a whole lot of misconception going on. :(
@mariam_kobras You know, when they wake up, they are going to be very upset.
@shonali Ha. Well said. Nice to meet you! :)
Great post Shonali, I never understand why people do this. It confuses me even more when it is someone who labels themselves as a guru, jedi, etc… yet they don’t even open to allow for two way communication. As always, you nailed it in this post, thanks!!
@ginavasselli Hey bella, it’s a great post. I still can’t for the life of me understand why people join only to go private? ~meh seems silly
@SEOcopy Def silly Tho I was guilty of it for a while before I realized how much it annoyed me when other people’s tweets were protected :-)
@ginavasselli exctamundo let’s break it down. You’re on here because u wanna chat w/friends? Call them ;) lol You want privacy? Stay offline
@SEOcopy So true! and btw, I haven’t heard someone use “exactamundo” since teenage mutant ninja turtles :-)
@ginavasselli LOL ok aging myself <ahem> If “early adopter” wasn’t such a beaten buzz word u could say I was around when TV was still B/W ;)
@SEOcopy @ginavasselli This convo is hilarious. Confession: I *love* “exactamundo”!
@shonali @SEOcopy Hah! I like “coolamundo” but it doesn’t have the same ring as “exactamundo”
@ginavasselli @SEOcopy No, that it doesn’t. :)
Thank you for this post, Shonali! It annoys the devil out of me when someone…student, professional…runs the gamut…”protects” his or her profile. This “I want to be a ‘public’ figure, but I don’t want anyone looking at me” attitude is unprofessional. Let’s hope those who choose this option come to their senses…soon!
@KirkHazlett I had no idea this irritated so many people! I do respect people’s individual privacy preferences. But it seems to me that if you (generally speaking) are going to tweet even a bit about professional topics and are hoping to grow your network through Twitter, then you’re not helping yourself by keeping that door shut.
Thanks for stopping by, Kirk! Btw, I have a bunch of your posts in my Reader that are “starred” for further reading and commenting… I will be by soon!
@ShonaliIt is interesting the varying sentiments on this issue. I agree…for professionals, it’s a non-option. For others…why are you on Twitter…a very public platform…anyway?? Use email!
@KirkHazlett Maybe they like talking in 140 characters? :p
I’m often shocked when I check out my followers and see social media professionals following, and when I click to follow them back, I find out they have protected profiles. I can understand some individuals who use Twitter for personal reasons doing that, but a professional? In social media? To me that’s a clue they don’t understand what they are doing.
@KenMueller Yup, and @Colby Cox made a similar comment over on Facebook (or below, thank you livefyre !)… especially when it comes to social media “gurus,” that has me scratching my head a little bit.