I hear some variation of that at least once a week. How does one have a private life while simultaneously integrating every aspect of their business life onto social media? Some might tell you that it can’t be done. Others might say that it can be done, but not without putting everything you post through a series of filters first. I say you can indeed have it all, the private authentic social media life and the professional social media presence. Pish-posh the critics will say, but I promise it’s possible if you really want it. How?
Have separate accounts for your personal life and your business life.
All you need for most social media is an email address and a name. I have a personal account where I share the cute photos of my kids, my political and religious rantings, and my current hair struggles. Then there is the profile for my business, and I don’t mean a business page, but a full fledge profile. I use a variation of my business name for my profile name, my logo is my profile picture, I only add business associates to my friends list, I don’t post unless it’s relevant to my business, and I use that profile to manage the various pages I oversee to ensure there isn’t the dreaded personal post on a business page fiasco. This allows me to keep my personal Facebook life separate from my business Facebook life.
Utilize privacy settings. I see this mistake time and time again.
Social media users are so worried about leaving someone out, an old colleague or college roommate, that they forget that some things need to be limited to a smaller circle of trusted acquaintances, friends, and family. Play around with the privacy settings until you find what works best for you. I’m a huge fan of limiting who can send me a friend request. By keeping it to friends of friends it ensures that we have a shared connection, that shared connection will make it easier to determine which account I should grant the individual access to. Twitter and Instagram also have a variety of privacy settings at the user's disposal.
LinkedIn is my go to for connecting with business associates. LinkedIn isn’t where you go to share your dinner, unless you’re a chef. Or your political leanings, unless you’re a politician. LinkedIn is neutral online networking territory. While it lacks the openness of Facebook, it provides a safe social platform to connect and grow your network without sacrificing your own comfort or freedom of expression.
Make who you are a part of your business.
Please know before you do this that it will at some point turn away some clients. That’s the reality of living in a world full of people from different walks of life and backgrounds. If you’re ok with that reality then embrace it. While I limit Facebook, because that is where I do the bulk of my soapboxing, I don’t shy away from sharing my views and opinions on Twitter or Instagram when the use of those platforms coincides with something I’m doing in my personal life. I know that publicly sharing a photo of a protest poster I made or retweeting a political opinion may deter a client. I also know that by showing glimpses of who I am I also gain clients too because I’m being human. Even if they don’t agree with my stance they can respect that I’m willing to be open and honest, which adds to that human element that clients and customers want to see in a business and brand.
The Bottom Line
Use social media wisely. Take advantage of the options, utilize the settings, and every now and then let a bit of who you are shine through for the world to see and appreciate.