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Public vs Private on Social Media

There’s a growing battle between posting information online privately versus posting it in a way that can be viewed by everyone.  There are advantages each way, and here’s a quick look at both.

Keeping it private

Most people would likely be stunned by the amount of information that they give away online to the general public.  Between your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other accounts, it’s often not difficult to gain a lot of insight into a person.  Jack Vale recently did an experiment along those lines; finding people that had posted something nearby, approaching them, and then scaring them with how much information he was able to quickly dig up.  Check out the video:

It’s certainly a cautionary tale and a great reminder to be careful of what we publish.  With security settings often changing, you need to pay attention to what you’re posting for the whole world to see.

Making it public

All of that said, there are many cases where posting items in public is a good thing.  This blog post that you’re reading is one example, but there are good reasons to post many items with no restrictions on them.

Making connections
If I’m trying to connect with someone on LinkedIn, it can be difficult to do if most of their data is protected.  You need to keep enough available so that potential connections can find you and make that link.  Similarly, you should often post things to “public” on sites like Google+.  While using your circles for posts can make sense, people that you haven’t yet circled will only see items that you’ve posted publicly, so you want to give them something to see so that they know why they might want to add you.

Google Authorship
Similarly, Google Authorship is only effective on items that you post to the general public.  This applies not only to blog entries (which are almost always public anyhow), but also to your posts on Google+.  Those public posts will get more feedback from other users, thus making you a somewhat more reputable author in the eyes of Google.

Be retweetable
While most social networks have varying degrees of privacy, on Twitter it’s pretty much all or nothing.  While a small case can be made for using a “protected” account, it’s not very worthwhile.  If you protect your tweets, it creates confusing replies when people respond to you, limits the ability for others to retweet you, and makes you account essentially meaningless.  If you need privacy, stick to social media platforms that were designed for it.

The world of social media can be an awesome place, and sharing content for the world to see can be a very valuable thing.  Just remember to be aware of what you’re putting out there, and how the privacy controls work on any site that you use.

If you’d like to learn more about social media for your business, contact GreenMellen Media today!

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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  1. I find it very interesting how people do not realize how much information they are giving out to public. Many people do not realize that if someone wanted to they could know almost everything there is to know about you. They could probably find out where you live, your job, and your daily routine. It is fun to see the difference of people that are private against the people that are public. I personally like to watch someone transform from public to being to private because weather they agree with it or not they really do change over time.


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