Balancing Your Personal and Professional Life on Social Media – Is it Impossible?

Social networking has become much more complex over the last few years. Facebook is no longer just a place for family and close friends where you can routinely post the intimate details of your life. Twitter has evolved from a place to talk about what you ate for dinner to a conversation about your professional interests. And now there are a whole new slew of private and public social networks like Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and SnapChat. These changes mean we need to think harder and more strategically about how we are using each network for personal and professional purposes. Below we’ll propose a framework for how you can use each social network and ways to balance both sides of your personal brand.

Professional

LinkedIn and SlideShare are professional-based networks. SlideShare, purchased by LinkedIn, allows users to share PowerPoint presentations of a professional nature. Additionally, you can use SlideShare to upload resumes, portfolios, conference lectures, and sales presentations to your LinkedIn profile.  Both of these networks have a strong professional culture and should be used 100% for your professional brand. Post relevant content as you go about your day-to-day work and you will start to be seen as a thought leader on the topics within your career. This influence will help you get noticed as you change positions or move to a new company.

Professional and Personal

Unlike LinkedIn and SlideShare, Twitter and Facebook blur the line of personal and professional. Facebook is focused on your social graph: the people that you know in real life. For most, this skews towards friends and family but colleagues, co-workers and business partners might feel a little left out if you don’t add them as friends on Facebook as well. Twitter is focused on the interest graph: people who share similar interests and want to discuss common topics. The problem is that most of us have personal and professional interests.

With Facebook and Twitter you need to be conscious of how you plan to use the networks. Will you be adding co-workers on Facebook? Will your friends and family enjoy posts related to your career? Will you be focusing mostly on professional or personal interests on Twitter? The answers to these questions will determine the types of content you post to both networks. The nice thing about Twitter is that you can have two separate accounts for each conversation. However, we recommend starting with the topic that will be most valuable to you and focusing on one account first. For example, my Twitter account is mostly focused on tech startups and marketing but I do post a bit of content on my personal interests like traveling and Formula 1. I only have one account because I don’t post enough about my personal interests to justify managing another feed. On Facebook I add folks from my professional network but most of my posts are related to my personal life. That said, I treat everything that I post on Facebook as being public and don’t share anything that should just be for close family and friends.

Personal Networks that are Public

Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine are networks that can be used to showcasing your interests, regardless of personal or professional. Keep in mind that these are still public networks easily accessed by other professionals. However, it’s still accepted to post pictures of food, selfies, travel destinations, you name it on your Instagram account. You can also easily share these pictures on Twitter or Facebook. On Pinterest you can still plan your wedding, keep a board full of recipes and workout regimes without the fear of seeming out of place due to growing professionalism. Vine is still a great place to go to laugh and be entertained by silly videos. Although these three networks are being incorporated more and more into business marketing techniques, they still have kept their personal feel.

Personal Networks that are Private

SnapChat is unique in that it lets you show off your weird side to your friends, quickly and privately. It’s one of the few escapes that provides you with the ability to just be yourself without the worry of your future boss discovering your obsession with kittens dressed up as superheroes. There’s no balance of personal and professional here! Cue the sigh of relief.

The evolution of Facebook and Twitter towards a more professional audience is unstoppable. However, that doesn’t mean you have to shy away from showing you have personal life. Now with Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest, and Vine there are other outlets for you to use with your personal life, while LinkedIn and SlideShare can help you maintain a strong professional presence. So don’t give up on showing your personal interests on these networks, just know the right place and time to do it.

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