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T.M.I: How to Use Local Social Networks Without Being Stalked

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Like it or not, the latest social media craze is social location networks.  These networks, (Foursquare.com, Gowalla.com, Brightkite.com, and others,) allow users to post their current geographic location to connect with other people and businesses nearby.  Some companies even offer discounts and free-bees to customers with frequent geo-posts locating themselves at their place of business

What worries me about these networks, (and I’m certain I’m not alone in this,) is that I don’t want the whole world knowing where I am at a given time.  I don’t even want most people to know.  It’s not because I’m a menacing character or because I have a secret life outside of work a la Dexter. Simply put, it’s because the whole concept is creepily voyeuristic, if you ask me.

I came up with a pretty decent solution when I set up company accounts on a bunch of these social location networks.  I asked our sales team and others who are frequently out of the office to help contribute by posting when Fresh Tilled Soil is out and about on a business-related affair.  For us, this includes everything from meetings to seminars to networking events, and even the occasional post-work cocktail with a client or two.  Having a company presence on local social networks works for us, I decided, because we participate in a wide enough array of activities to keep these accounts active and diversely engaged.  If we were a group of accountants, then a company account probably wouldn’t work out well.

With further research, I was able to adjust account privacy settings; I also learned that these networks do not post your location automatically. I assured my co-workers that using these apps as a company-wide endeavor wouldn’t individually put one of us in danger of being stalked, having our house robbed, or turning us into a social media whore.  Our varied group effort would serve as a safety mask to keep any one person from being over-exposed.

My point: it’s key to realize that there’s nothing forcing you to share details of your private life on these networks; at the same time, don’t miss out on a possible opportunity by automatically dismissing a new technology or trend.  There is an innate actual and potential benefit to be had as a result of engaging in so-lo networks.  The trick is to be strategic and tactful in your approach.

Author Alex Stetson

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