Why do people use social networks? Is there a difference in how we approach and use personal and professional social media platforms, and are we a different person on each?

In The Mindset Divide, LinkedIn polled more than 6,000 social media users across 12 different countries about the ways they use different social channels. Their aspiration? That marketers will be better able to connect to these different mindsets on personal and professional networks.

It’s a big study, and all a bit biased towards LinkedIn, really, inasmuch as personal networks – i.e., Twitter and Facebook – are somewhat dismissed by the talking heads in the video that accompanies the study as “entertainment and fun” and ways to simply pass the time, whereas professional networks – i.e., LinkedIn – are “essential”, allow us to “succeed” and “learn about new opportunities”, drive us to “understand the changes in the landscape” and “help us lose weight and meet sexy people”.

Okay, so I might have made that last one up, but you the gist. All that said, there is some truth in what LinkedIn says here – people do use Twitter differently to how they use LinkedIn – but I’m not sure it needed to be piled on so heavily. Or that it really needed to be said.

Here’s the video. Make up your own mind.

“The biggest difference between personal and professional networking is purpose and mindset,” says the report. “We learned that people exhibit two very different mindsets when they engage on social platforms – a personal one to passively ‘spend time’, and a professional one to actively ‘invest time’. On personal networks, people are driven to socialize, find entertainment and generally kill time. The research found that people are more than 3 times as likely to use personal networks for entertainment rather than professional networks. In turn, they are 3 times as likely to use professional networks to keep up to date with their career over personal networks.”

Well, duh.

I dunno – do most people really use LinkedIn? Aren’t most of us on there because, you know, most of us are on there? I know there are exceptions, like there are to everything else in this crazy thing we call life, but let’s not get too giddy here.

The report also offers 5 tips for optimizing marketing with mindset.

  1. Recognize the separation between personal and professional networks and the opportunities they present
  2. Frame how the brand helps users gain knowledge and success on professional networks
  3. Engage information-hungry influencers with exclusive content
  4. Align the brand with emotion by matching messages to user mindset – casual updates versus insights-driven content
  5. Build meaningful relationships by participating, sharing and listening

LinkedIn have also produced this infographic to illustrate their findings.

(Source: LinkedIn.)