One question that comes up on occasion with social media, especially for professionals and business owners, is how much of their personal life they should mix in on social media.
The opposite is also asked in the same context.
How much business should be mixed in with personal social media?
Should it be separated at all?
Many of us seem to have the thought that we have one private life and another life that is more out in the open. Maybe that’s the case or maybe it’s just something we have convinced ourselves of in the past.
It seems that today the world is more transparent than ever. If you’re doing something in your private life that you wouldn’t want others to know about then you’re likely living with an amount of stress. The reality is that much of our private lives today are not as private as we would like to think.
I don’t know if that’s right or wrong.
It’s just reality.
When it comes to social media I think a good approach is to find a natural balance between personal and business. In a business setting, you are still a person. And in a personal setting, you are still a professional. You can’t really have one without the other. You might focus on personal aspects of your life during certain times and the other way around with professional settings, but ultimately you’re always the same person.
So there’s no reason to hide behind the idea that you can only share business-related items on Twitter or that you can only share personal items on Facebook. There is a balance to be found.
And I actually think people, potential followers, prefer to see the entirety of who you are.
I like to think of business-to-business sales situations when it comes to online marketing including social media. If you own a business you’ve likely been involved with the sales process. You’ve sold your product or service to another business. But you didn’t really sell to a business, you sold to a person.
And in the sales process there is often small talk. You share some information about who you are as a person, a little about the values you have, your hobbies, your personal life, etc. The other person does the same. It’s not just business all the time. Yes, business and what you’re selling is important and is discussed, but we don’t only do business with businesses. We do business with people.
In the online world, including social media, business is no different than in person. Every interaction you have is the same as it would be in person. There may be slight differences. You have the opportunity to meet a lot of people online. There are no location barriers. Interactions are nearly the same, however. You don’t share everything about you, but the best online business relationships, friendships and more are just like in real life. You share information, both personal and business-related.
So I think that’s a good approach to social media.
Your Personal Social Media Accounts
If you’ve committed to a personal social media effort it is okay, and likely a good thing, to inject your personal life into the account a bit. The same with your business life.
Now, just like in real life, you need to be aware of the quality of your interactions with people. It’s often the case that if you start discussing something like politics in real life, say with a family member, that there could be some negativity that arises. It’s no different in the social world.
And in person it could also be true in a business sense. If you’re looking to make connections just on a friendly level then a certain amount of business talk is okay, but if you go overboard you’ll likely turn the person away.
First, think about what you want from your social media account or accounts. If you want to grow your business, grow your personal profile and grow your network and find opportunities then you’re in the same boat as many people.
Now think about how you would handle interactions with this goal in the real world. You would meet new people. You would share some information about yourself. You would ask questions. You would find common ground and discover some shared passions that you can build relationship upon.
This is where you can really build a following on social media and really see reward from your efforts. Treat it just like real life.
Now let’s say you have a Twitter account or whatever for your business. This can be a little trickier because it’s not about you as a person. It’s about the personality, the culture and the goals of the business or the brand.
Your business still has a personality. You don’t want to put so many rules on social media for your business that its natural personality can’t shine. That makes it difficult to attract followers and customers.
But one employee, even yourself, is not the business. You represent the business and so does an employee, but you can use social media in that way – for personal and professionals reasons as we discussed.
For the business accounts, it’s about knowing the personality of the brand and the culture as well. Then making sure that comes through when you share information. It can seem hard especially at first, but whoever is sharing content on the business account should think about interactions at work. Think about what the business means to them and what it means to others.
That is where the personality of the business comes to life in content. It allows the person to understand what they can share. They can share that funny GIF or they can post that photo or type that response.
It’s okay to mix your personal side and business side on social media. And it’s okay for your business account to take on a personality. The important steps are to understand your goals with social media. And to approach it just as you would in real life.
Start there and you’ll have no worries with social media and you’ll be able to take full advantage of all the opportunity it has to offer.