Bits n Bobs | Blog

How to Keep Your Private and Professional Social Profiles in Balance

17/11/2014

With social media on our computers at home, at work and on the move via phones and tablets, it is getting harder to separate our personal lives from our professional ones.

With businesses launching themselves into social media like never before to engage with their audiences, as employers you need to lay out your social media policy in black and white to help your employees navigate their social media use at work.

How to Keep Your Private and Professional Social Profiles in Balance

So how do you balance ‘who you are’ with ‘what you do’?

Here are some of the things you can do to ensure you don’t end up with a split personality when it comes to using social media.

Understand Your Channels

Many social media channels have functions that we are not even aware of, let alone utilise. If you decide to keep your personal and professional personas together under the same name, then learn how to manage your audience.

Facebook

  • Use Friend Lists to group your contacts together – you can post to business and networking contacts and then separately to family and friends without crossover.
  • If you choose to keep your Facebook for personal use only, make sure you adjust your privacy settings so that people can only see your posts if they are an accepted friend.

Twitter

  • The Twitter attention span is short so it is unlikely that every single one of your followers will read every one of your tweets. Use this to space out personal tweets from professional ones without alienating either audience.
  • If you are going to keep both your personal and professional personas under one Twitter handle, always keep in mind what you tweet and re-tweet.

Linkedin

  • This is a tool for the professional persona. If you prefer, you can focus all of your professional connections here and keep your other social channels for friends and family.
  • The downside is that not everyone who you want to connect with as a professional uses Linkedin so you could miss out on good social connections.

Pinterest

  • As with Twitter, you don’t get any say about who follows you, but you can focus your interests into different boards. (For example, create a board entitled ‘Marketing Ideas’ for interested followers. Another board called ‘Shoes I Like’ will do the same for those interested only in that subject).

Play It Safe vs. Social Butterfly

The biggest question is figuring out how much of yourself you want ‘out there’.

Some people have no problem with sharing every detail of their life on the internet, but others are more reserved and prefer to keep their personal life private.

Before you start sectioning your life off into social chunks, decide for yourself how much you want to reveal.

Family

  • If your business is a family-run company that has generations behind it, then promoting your own family through social media is a worthwhile endeavour.
  • On the flip side, your family should also get a say and those who wish to remain out of the spotlight should be allowed to do so.

Friends

  • We choose our friends because we like them, but they don’t always agree with us or each other. Gauge carefully how your friends will react to your business posts encroaching on your personal feed.
  • There is an option in Facebook’s settings to change what appears on your Feed. Your friends’ posts may be acceptable, but what about your friend’s friends?

Work

  • There have been some sobering examples of work and personal life clashing in life-altering ways; some that were easily avoidable and some that were not. Social Media Research compiled an eye-opening list of faux-pas that cost social networkers their jobs – it is not as unlikely as you may think.
  • Be smart – if your company has a strict social media policy, you must adhere to it. If you are unsure, ask HR or someone in charge for a clearer understanding of what is acceptable and what is not.

What Is Considered ‘Inappropriate’?

If you are a teacher, then discussing your student’s personal lives online, or ranting about poor pay and conditions while working for a highly recognisable online brand, are easily identifiable as inappropriate, but where does the line fall?

There are some very simple rules to follow if you want to avoid the social media fails that can occur if you are not careful;

The Internet is Forever

  • Once you post something, even if you delete it later, chances are someone has already seen it, retweeted it, shared it, liked it or re-pinned it. Think before you post!

Is It True of You?

  • There are many people who act differently online to how they do offline. Ask yourself before you post, is this something you would say in person?

You Wear The Uniform

  • We all heard this phrase or something similar at school – when we wear our uniforms, we are representing our school. The same applies to work, whether you wear a uniform or not. You are associated with that company, brand or organisation and what you do and say reflects on that, intentionally or not.

Know Your Audience

  • If you use social media regularly, chances are you know who is following you and what kind of audience you have. If you have something you want to share but it doesn’t seem to fit with a certain social media channel, try a different one instead. You don’t have to post everything on all your channels.

Do Your Research

  • Just because it is on the internet, that doesn’t mean it’s true. Don’t immediately share or retweet something controversial or newsworthy without doing your own research. Snopes.com has helped to debunk many a scare-mongering chain letter.

Summary

Social media has taken on a life of its own in the last decade, evolving from simple chat rooms to multi-channel networks, but when all is said and done, we are the ones fuelling the machine.

It is down to us to be responsible for what we post online. The familiar cry of ‘I didn’t know what I was doing’ just won’t cut it anymore.

As with most tools, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you probably shouldn’t be using it without supervision.

Simply put, there is no excuse for not understanding how to use social media effectively.

Agree with this post? Or do you think there are better ways to manage professional and personal social media profiles? Let us know in the comments below.