Finding the balance between personal and business in social media
Let's start with the simple stuff. Use LinkedIn solely for business related posts. Keep pictures of the kids, political rants, or crazy weekend activities off there. It was meant for business and business alone, and it's best to keep it that way. Not only could you lose clients and potential clients now, but you may jeopardize future career opportunities. Companies often look for new employees via LinkedIn. You don't want to turn them off before you get the opportunity to meet them.
Facebook can be a little more complicated. The easy answer would be to use your Facebook page for strictly personal connections, and invite other people to like your business page (you should have a business page). That way you can feel free to post whatever you want to your personal page, and you can use your business page for a lot of the same things you would post on LinkedIn. However, the lines can become a little blurry between what is a personal friend and what is a business contact.
Blurry lines? What do you mean?
Let's take a real life example. Let's say you are a financial advisor. As a financial advisor, you have a certain level of professionalism that is implied, and must be maintained. By nature of your profession, you also need to form close relationships with your clients. You meet with them, go over their finances and investments, but also their goals in life, how things are with their family, and more. You need to know these things in order to do your job. In time, you may develop a true friendship with this client. Does that then mean it's ok to add them on Facebook? If so, how does that change what you post? Would your client feel slighted if they friend request you and you don't add them? Could not adding them affect your business relationship?
It's really up to you whether you add that business client that becomes a friend, and remember friends can also become clients. What do you do after though? Do you approach social media differently? My advice to you is be careful and conscious of what you post. Don't be businesslike all the time just because you have business contacts on Facebook. It's supposed to be fun. Be real Be yourself. However, before you post something, think about who will see it and their reaction. I generally wouldn't recommend posting anything you wouldn't want you grandmother to see.
Does that mean I can't post party pics?
Well, no. You're allowed to have fun. If you are having that first Great Lakes Christmas Ale of the year, go ahead and tell us. That's cool. Glass of wine with the wife? Cool. I get it. However, don't post a photo of your beer every other day. Even if you're only having one, the audience will assume you are having more than that. Just keep a limit on it.
What about political rants? I really disagree with what so-and-so said.
If it's your personal page, you can post whatever you like, but keep in mind that politics can be a touchy subject. Maybe a link here and there, or a little bit of commentary. However, when the debates come on, State of the Union address, and the like, my Facebook feed blows up with political stuff, and more than once I have seen people get into huge arguments about these things. Be careful you don't damage a relationship with political material.
Ok, I will be careful what I post. What else do I need to watch out for?
Be careful what posts on other pages you like. I'll give you a real example. I liked something on Facebook one day by a page entitled "I f------ love science". A couple days later I got an email from a client that I had friended on Facebook asking me to please keep it clean, because his family also sees the stuff in his news feed. I spent quite a bit of time looking through my profile to see what I had posted. It was all stuff about my band or pictures of my son, however, when I liked the post by this page, it showed up in his news feed that I had liked the post with the F word. The good news, we talked about it, and he is still a great client of ours. However, that could have gone very wrong very easily.
Notice that Facebook does that facial recognition thing now? When I upload photos, it highlights peoples faces, knows who they are, and asks me if I want to tag them. I have talked to folks who were automatically tagged in photos on Facebook. In this case, she had a separate Facebook page just for her employees, and posted a picture meant just for them. Facebook automatically tagged her face in the photo, which means it then showed to everyone on her personal page. In this case, it wasn't a big deal. However, what if she had been standing in front of a chart showing profit margins or some other information not meant for the general public?
In summary, with the lines between business relationships and personal relationships becoming increasingly blurry, it's very easy to have business associates on your personal social media pages. Just be aware, and be careful what you do online, and you shouldn't have an issue.
- Don't use your personal page to market all day every day. Use your business page for that.
- Remember potential employers may also be watching. How you represent yourself in social media may well have an effect on your future job opportunities.
- Facebook does have the ability to create lists and limit who can see your posts. However, that's a bit more maintenance on a per post basis, and the whole thing tends to become visible to all whenever Facebook updates their security protocols, requiring you to set your privacy settings up all over again.
- I would apply the same guidelines to Twitter and Google Plus as those I would to Facebook.
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