As social media sites evolve from a place where people connect on a personal level to an atmosphere of business networking, one thing is becoming increasingly obvious- there is a fine line between the personal and professional. Or so it seems.
The fact is that no matter how casual doing business may seem at the time, it is nonetheless, business. Here are three ways to ensure that you maintain a professional image when it truly matters.
(1) Divide and conquer: Before creating a social media profile, decide on your purpose and stick to it at all times. If you are creating a Facebook account to ensure that you stay connected to your friends and family, keep that account off of your business marketing materials. If you need to create a Facebook Page for your business, do so and then stick to the professional there. Same goes for Twitter. You don’t want to sully any potential professional relationships because you announced to the world that you awoke in a strange place without your shoes after a night of binge drinking. In addition, to ensure that you keep these accounts separate, use a client like Hootsuite to manage multiple accounts, or if you like, use two different browsers- one for personal and one for private.
(2) Don’t over-share. Sometimes even the most stoic professional has a lapse in thinking and presses publish or share without fully assessing the weight of his words. If you have a problem at work or with a client, or you were recently fired or laid-off, resist the urge to post anything on your business accounts. If you think sharing your experience will benefit others, do so only after you have given yourself time to cool down AND only if you can share without being insulting and/or whiny. In addition, don’t share too much about your personal life either. Potential employers may hesitate to contact you if they know that you are looking for a “B.S” job that you don’t have to take seriously just to make ends meet.
(3) Be aware. There is a time and a place for everything. Sometimes situations require a more personal touch and sometimes they don’t. Learn to read the situation and ensure that what you add to the conversation fits- be relevant. Be aware of what you are saying and to whom. Make it a point to learn who your “friends” are on social media sites and remember to adjust your behavior when needed. You can stay true to yourself and keep it professional.