How to Manage Personal and Professional Social Media Accounts (and Stay Calm)

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How often do you let your professional and personal environments blend? How often do you walk into an interview in the manner with which you would walk into a party? When was the last time you called in sick to work only to meet your boss the next day and tell him how you faked an illness to go to a water park instead? If these scenarios strike you as bizarre, then why is it so easy to let your personal and professional social media lives leak into each other?

As far as possible, stay away from mixing your personal and business social media accounts. I find it helpful to have separate accounts for my business and personal networks. While this may come across as a paranoid move, it has helped me avoid many embarrassing situations in the past. My clients, colleagues and employers are spared from seeing my angry rants about current events, or even photos of me as a chubby toddler that my mother is so fond of uploading.

That being said, it isn’t always easy to maintain distinct accounts. With the sheer number of social networks in existence today, many may find it cumbersome to have two accounts on each network. You may even be tempted to merge your accounts in order to separate accounts for my business and personal networks among your own personal network. If you are a professional, there are three likely scenarios. One, that you will handle the accounts for a business. Two, that you will represent a business online. Or three, that your account will represent yourself, the most important brand of all. Whether you’re an employee, a job seeker, an entrepreneur, or even a politician, here are a few tips to help you better manage your professional accounts.

DO!

  • Carefully categorize your personal and professional contacts. Learn to use privacy and other settings on each social media site to effectively filter who gets to see your posts and interact with you.
  • If you are running a business account, use your bio to specify that sharing a post does not mean you endorse it. This statement may not hold for much but serves as an informal disclaimer. If you are visibly associated with a brand, state that the views expressed are your own.
  • Before you upload or post anything, take a few seconds to go through your post to verify if it is worthy enough to be shared. Mindless sharing is to be reserved for your personal networks alone.
  • While staying professional is important, it is also necessary to allow your followers or your network to have a personal connect with your account. Apart from your industry related news and posts, infuse a few details about your personal life. This could include relatively safe, non-controversial posts about traffic, weather, trends, etc. Court your controversies carefully.
  • Watch your language. Always be polite and watch your sentence construction to avoid any grammatical or syntax errors.
  • Try to maintain a clean record online. No matter how superficial this may sound, your online persona doesn’t only reflect you but also your business. Try and avoid posting scandalous information whenever possible and make an attempt to cleanse your previous social media history of the same.

DO NOT!

  • Post or upload personal content. Save photos of your pet for your private networks. And refrain from promoting posts from your personal accounts on your professional account.
  • When running an official account, do not follow, or interact with, people in your personal network for non-business purposes. As a rule of thumb, do not follow individuals who have nothing to do with your industry.
  • Do not post inappropriate content.
  • Avoid making provocative statements. Stay away from posting about politics and religion.
  • Stay away from editorialising your brand accounts unless you’re really willing to deal with the ramifications. As much as possible, refrain from passing judgment on current events that do not immediately concern your business.
  • Do not participate in social media contests as you would using your individual account.
  • Do not badmouth your competition or get into arguments.
  • Do not rely on the delete button. Once posted, information can and will be used against you no matter how much you try and hide it.

Countless professionals and businesses have, in their haste to establish a strong presence on social media, embarrassed themselves in the social sphere by being careless about what and how they share information. Remember that you are in charge of your online reputation, and tread carefully. If we’ve scared you into opening up separate accounts, then fret not. A few additional passwords aren’t that hard to remember.

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