Separating Personal and Professional Social Presence

For the past five years plus, I have established and maintained a professional brand as Social Steve. The focus of my Social Steve brand has been to share experiences, best practices, and my perceptions in social marketing having worked with a number of clients and brands. Being completely transparent (as I always try to be) my objectives are two fold … 1) promote social marketing as a key driver of business success through sharing experiences, and 2) be viewed as and respected as a social marketing thought leader.

Personal vs professionalAs I look to establish and maintain my own professional brand, I have made a handful of conscious decisions to separate my professional and personal social presence. Some of my own rules of thumb have been as follows:

• Facebook – I use Facebook for true friends and not professional friends and acquaintances. My litmus test has been – “If I want you to see pictures of me and my family in our bathing suits at the beach, I’ll accept your friend request.” This really makes people I work with separate from personal friends. While I really have nothing in my closet to hide anymore, I do reserve Facebook for my own personal world. Early in my social media consulting career, I made the mistake of accepting clients in Facebook.
• Tweeting – 85% of my tweets are about social media and marketing. 10% is about music (my drug of choice). 5% is about family excursions. The reason I add 15% of tweets of the personal nature is simply to give my audience a feel that there is a real person behind the professional tweets.
• 96% of my articles on the SocialSteve Blog are about social media and brand marketing. This is what people come to my blog for. There have been a few exceptions. I have blogged about Martin Luther King Jr and my sister – two people that have served as outstanding examples and models for me in my life.

Now I am not saying this is the way it should be for everyone, but rather that each person should consciously determine what is right for them and set up their own ground rules. And while I have determined some conditions to practice in my own social presences I continue to learn along the way. Continuous social learning is imperative for people and brands. Each entity needs to produce, execute, and assess how their audience reacts. Demographics, psycho-demographics, and natural behavior cause variations of different target audience’s reactions.

Now just a bit of data and then my analysis based on my own blogging.

• Most of my marketing and business blog posts get very little, if any, references on Facebook. I experience a much higher rate of mentions on Twitter and Google+ for business related postings.
• Personal stories (such as the Tribute to My Sister last week) have had very little postings on Twitter and Google+ and have had a relatively high rate of references on Facebook.

For brands, I think this has some key implications. Most users are on Facebook for friendly socialization as opposed to connecting with brands. Yes, brands can have strong Facebook programs that build relationships and brand preference, but their Facebook implementations must have a strong brand personality and not corporate-like or advertorial. While Google+ lacks the adoption of Facebook, the circles functionality allows the separation of socialization for different purposes. It remains to be seen if Google+ connection segmentation will be valued by people and if their user base sees growth.

For me, I know how I use my various social channels for different purposes. By no means am I saying this is correct and one size fits all. In fact, I’d rather this post be the basis for a discussion rather than my typical guidance. What do you think? Do you see a need to separate personal and professional social presence and if so, what are your self-imposed guidelines? I would love to learn from you. Chime in and join the conversation.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve



Filed under behavior, brand marketing, Facebook, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, social network, social reviews, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter

4 responses to “Separating Personal and Professional Social Presence

  1. It’s true, there is no one size fits all when it comes to social media and brands and people. I think the key lies in your statement, “Continuous social learning is imperative for people and brands. Each entity needs to produce, execute, and assess how their audience reacts. Demographics, psycho-demographics, and natural behavior cause variations of different target audience’s reactions.” I probably don’t have quite as much separation between my personal and business presence on Twitter and Facebook, but do have more so on LinkedIn and Google+. However, regardless of the channel, I want to remain human because social media is about people, connecting, and conversation.

  2. Jim Matorin

    I totally agree that you need to separate the two professional and personal. Authenticity key. Easy for me to manage, because I take my personal totally offline. That is why they call it a private life.

  3. I blend both professional and personal on my social channels, but the ratio varies.

    – Facebook is about 95% personal, 5% professional. However, I have added depth to professional relationships by developing a personal connection with those folks on Facebook. Ultimately, we still like doing business with, and collaborating with, people we “like”.
    – Twitter is about 70% business, and 30% personal (Usually around family events or sporting events)
    – Google+ is about 90% biz, and 10% personal (mainly because not as many personal connections are on that channel)
    – LinkedIn is about 95% business and 5% personal

    In all personal interactions, I keep it PG-13 at the worst. I do not tend towards profanity or polarizing viewpoints, so I’m not afraid of someone judging my personal updates. If they do not like those personal glimpses…then they are not likely to work with me.

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