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How Much Personal Information Are You Sharing Online?

13 Feb

In my online profiles, I tell the world I like Paul McCartney and Rush. No—not the political commentator. Rather, the Canadian progressive rock band composed of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart. This information has helped connect me with others who are fans of Paul McCartney and of Rush. It helps people see that I have a life. It has helped establish connections. I realize some folks may not like Paul McCartney or Rush, but I feel the odds of that turning away a potential friend or customer are slim compared to someone saying, “Oh, Mark likes Paul McCartney and Rush too…I want to connect with him.” This is information I am comfortable sharing with the world.

Sharing helps me prove I have a personal life. In addition to telling the world I like Paul McCartney and Rush, I am on the record as an active triathlete. This helps connect me with other triathletes, swimmers, bicyclists, and runners. I am also fairly confident that telling the world I swim, bike, and run for fun will not turn away potential friends and customers. Sharing this information has helped establish connections.

Sharing touches a sensitive nerve with some folks. They share information and then wonder why they receive advertising targeted at them. My Facebook page had ads for Paul McCartney’s and Rush’s 2010 summer tours. The promoters of these tours did a good job creating Facebook ads and then targeting them at Facebook users who shared that they were fans of Paul McCartney and of Rush. Although I did not attend shows by either of these acts last summer, I did appreciate learning that they were still active. I am in the target market for these tours’ promoters, and am perfectly happy being in that group.

The same holds true for triathlon vendors. Here you can find bicycle and shoe manufacturers, race organizers, and health food promoters. I saw their ads, too, at Facebook. They followed the same strategy that the promoters of Paul McCartney’s and Rush’s tours followed: they targeted Facebook users. The profile information I shared put me in their target market.

Advertising is a fact of life. The information you share online helps advertisers target you for whatever they are selling. Targeted advertising helps Facebook remain a free service. Facebook is a business too. The folks who work there like keeping a roof over their heads, food on the table, and cash in the wallet.

You have to decide your level of comfort with privacy versus sharing. Everybody deserves to keep some parts of their lives private. I am more private than most. You must also understand that sharing helps establish connections both on the personal front and the business front.

*****

Mark Anthony Germanos is the author of two books, Escape the Cubicle: How to leave your corporate or government job for something better and How to Make Computer Systems Work for You. He has faith in a slow but sure Sacramento business revival. Sacramento small business owners are leading the way. His second book, Escape the Cubicle, is for those who want to escape cubicle jobs and become successfully self-employed. Escape the Cubicle answers the questions: "How can I grow my business" and "How do I become my own boss."

Mark is the President of Cameron Park Computer Services. As a business owner and computer networking consultant, he has seen habits that successful Sacramento small business owners embrace. He helps Sacramento small business owners embrace those habits to increase their profits, efficiency and happiness. An advocate of Sacramento business revival, Mark believes everybody should run their lives like a small business, perform SWOT Analyses and use social media campaigns to improve business. He used to say “social media is stupid.” That was until he attended a conference and saw how Sacramento small business owners can use social media campaigns as a valuable tool. Since then, he has earned more than $40,000 in business via social media. His Sacramento small business clients also have five-figure returns. Sacramento small business owners that launch social media campaigns give themselves a comparative advantage over those who lag behind. Mark does not do everything, but his clients do receive great results and participate in the Sacramento business revival when they follow his advice.

Mark moved from Chicago and restarted his business in California with a cell phone and a Honda Civic. An active triathlete, he has a life, a dream wife and a dog. For additional details, visit http://markanthonygermanos.com. Twitter: http://twitter.com/markgermanos. Facebook: http://facebook.com/markanthonygermanos. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markgermanos.

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