Each year, I teach a series of social media workshops for students and faculty at the college that I work. One of the most common topics of discussion is whether or not they should have both personal and professional profiles on social media platforms.
The bottom line is that there is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on how YOU use social media, and what you’re intending to do to maintain control over your web presence.
In fact, my mindset has done a complete 180 on this since I first started getting into social media. I used to have 2 Twitter accounts. My original reasoning was that my work network didn’t need to hear about my bikram yoga class, and my IRL friends didn’t need to be bombarded by tweets from my latest conference. It worked for a while, but I eventually felt like I was presenting 2 personas and not showing people my true self. So I migrated to only one account, and I’ve never looked back!
Since then, I’ve built better relationships on both ends. My work network now sees me as a more relatable human being. In fact, I’ve shared some rather entertaining tweets with other professionals about sporting events, Harry Potter, and Downton Abby to name a few. It turns out, people who go into the same field of work often have other interests in common. Who would have thought! Right? Building deeper relationships is always a win-win in my book. And on the flip side, my personal friends now know more about what I do from day-to-day when I’m not hanging out with them. Heck, I even had a friend tag along with me to a conference because she saw some of the topics I was posting about on Twitter (it was also in Orlando in winter, but we’ll pretend that wasn’t a major deciding factor).
However, there are certainly instances when one profile is not necessarily the way to go. What I tell our students is that it’s important to build up your web presence to help make yourself known, but you have to make a more conscious effort. By being proactive about your web presence, you can better control what pops up first in a Google search of your name. Remember, at least 60% of employers look at social media usage before hiring a candidate. And I’m one of them! Not only do I get concerned if someone posts too much out there, but I also get concerned if someone has no public web presence whatsoever. But that’s a post for another day….
There are many examples both for and against having two separate lives on social media. And again, it’s up to you and how you use social media. It’s mostly common sense and personal preference, but here’s list of things to consider if you’re not quite sure what to do.
Scenario’s where 2 separate accounts would be beneficial:
- You’re graduating college and entering into the job search and need to begin building your professional profile. Keep your personal profile private, especially until you can untag those epic photos from the senior bar crawl, and start connecting with professionals and potential employers on your public professional profile. More advice on this here from FastCompany.
- You’re an educator and use social media to connect with students, parents, guest speakers, etc. If this is the case, you might want to create a separate class account too, and be sure to brush up on FERPA and child protection laws before doing this!
- You work in law, government, or mental health fields where it would be dangerous for your full name, hobbies, etc. to be public, but you also need to build your professional practice through social media marketing.
- You post a lot of pictures: family gatherings, children’s birthday parties (especially if you post other people’s kids, you don’t know what their privacy wishes are), or if you just post 20 selfies a day. These don’t always mix well with professional profiles.
So what are your thoughts on separating personal and professional social
Stay tuned for my next blog post (next week) on social media and the job search for more insider info on what employers are looking for, and why.