Social Media: Should I Have a Separate Professional Account?

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Posted July 18, 2013 by Adrienne Asselmeier in Networking Buzz
social-media

This is a question that I’ve struggled with, and I still don’t think I’ve found the answer. When I first started doing outreach work, I was speaking with people from around the world. I often messaged people whom I would never meet, and had never met before. That made me weary of sharing too much personal information. I was completely validated when several men made inappropriate and threatening comments to me after posing as students in need of group organizing help. For that reason, I started a second Facebook account and used it for all of my work contacts and people I didn’t know personally—with a very limited amount of information about me featured on my profile. Little did I know that two years later, I’d have three Facebook accounts and be fielding near-constant questions from friends thinking I had unfriended them because they found one of my other accounts. Sigh.

What is the answer, then? In the social media age, professionals are expected to be networking on LinkedIn, commenting on company posts on Facebook,  retweeting to help the brand on Twitter, and maybe more. Do you use each account for some personal and some professional, but hold back on your personal life, or do you separate the two so that you’re free to post those beach pics and fishbowl margaritas while keeping professional contacts in the dark? I still can’t decide, so here are the pros and cons of each method and you can decide what works best for you.

Having Separate Professional and Personal Social Media Accounts

Pro:

  • You control what your colleagues see about you.
  • You don’t have to be the tag police and look out for your friends tying you to nefarious activities.
  • You can friend people with less discrimination because you don’t have personal information on your profile.
  • No need to learn how to make separate lists, or use the ‘custom’ audience features to post something for your friends that remains invisible to business contacts.

Con:

  • You have to log in to separate accounts, which takes more time.
  • You will likely confuse your friends and family when they see another account for you that they are not friends with, which sometimes leads to very offended friends!
  • You won’t have as easy of access to your account on mobile devices, which are usually linked to just one account on any particular app (I still haven’t figured out how to switch Facebook accounts on my phone)
  • It’s usually transparent because you don’t post much, have just a couple pictures, and have fewer friends. You look boring.
  • If you leave a job for a much different field, you then need to decide whether to keep your old account, or connect with certain people on different accounts and delete the now-defunct professional profile.

Combining Your Professional and Personal Social Media Accounts

Pro:

  • You look like a real person with a real life.
  • People can see your personality.
  • You likely have the account(s) connected to your mobile devices and can more easily interact with anyone in your network.
  • Less time is spent working on your brand because you’re not switching between accounts.
  • Maybe you can even make a more personal connection with someone in your professional network and build a more meaningful relationship.

Con: 

  • You have to be the tag police and make sure your friends don’t tag you in work-inappropriate photos or comments.
  • You might not want to show support for things you believe in because you fear alienating business contacts (for instance, not posting petitions, news pieces, your views or other beliefs, because you would not share them at work).
  • You water-down your posts and avoid personal posts that may be touching or funny, but would not be okay for your boss to see. You can’t talk about how your daughter made poopie everywhere, and you definitely won’t post photos asking which bikini is better.
  • You can’t readily complain about work.

I have a personal Facebook account, a professional Facebook account for my GROW contacts, an account that’s mostly personal now that I don’t work full-time for CFI but still want to keep in touch with many of the friends I made there, and I have all of my other accounts: LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, LoseIt, Meetup, My Fitness Pal, Daily Mile, Happify, a few WordPress, probably a Youtube account somewhere…and the list goes on. I’ve started to abandon some of them because it takes too much time to admin them all, but I keep the separate Facebook profiles. I guess I’ll finally combine them all when I’m sufficiently famous and there is not a divide between my business life and my personal life. Until then, I’ll just keep doing the rounds and explaining to grandma why she’s “not friends” with me on Facebook (even though she is).


About the Author

Adrienne Asselmeier

Adrienne "Dren" Asselmeier is a writer and marketing specialist. Dren has a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature and is a blogger, runner, over-achiever, and friend to everyone. She likes to write about science-based health and fitness, small business ownership, and motivational topics.

4 Comments


  1.  
    Carmen

    Interesting article. My personal and professional lives are separate. My FB is private. In the settings I have it where my name is not searchable and I cannot be tagged in pictures. I do not use my whole name on Twitter just my first name and the first letter of my last name. My handle is in no way tied to my real name. My Instagram is the same way although I mainly post my meals, OOTD, and my city adventures. When I google my name nothing comes up and I like it that way. I cannot imagine juggling two and three FB accounts. You can control who sees what easily in the privacy settings. I’m very careful about what I post online. I prefer potential employers staying focused on my qualifications and not the fact that I like Jay-Z’s latest cd or that my boyfriend and I are planning a weekend getaway.




  2.  

    I split my social media profiles by purpose.

    I use Facebook the way it was originally intended to be used -for keen in touch with friends (both current friends and old school/college friends). Therefore Facebook is strictly personal and I plan to keep it that way. My profile isn’t searchable by name/email address.

    LinkedIn is definitely for professional purposes ans if people Google me that’s what comes up.

    I have 2 twitter accounts. A personal one which friends can follow me on, set up under a nickname. A “conservative” personal one which I use if professional or other “formal” contacts want to follow me.

    I also administer the twitter account for my blog (@ climbinginheels) and my project management company (@FiablePS).

    I mainly use social media for personal stuff because that’s what it was designed for things like Instagram, Pintrest etc I only have personal accounts for. That said, depending on the type of company, I can see why businesses would want to use social media to engage with customers; but those are usually accounts set up in a company name. A private individual shouldn’t need two sets of accounts really unless they are their business (freelancers, journalists, performers, or those who are the “face” of a company/brand).

    This is just my 2 pennies’ worth if course!





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