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3 Steps to Blend Your Professional and Personal Lives on Social Media

Question: How can I effectively manage and maintain a professional and personal presence on social media sites?

Let’s face it – life is a constant battle of finding the right balance between our professional and personal lives. We cannot always follow a strategic plan to guide us through managing and maintaining the two, but whatever occurs in life, we have to be able to deal with how our personal and professional lives intertwine.

My point: you should be actively learning how to work with what life hands you. What does this have to do with your business and social media? Everything.

As the industry continues to evolve and change – as we have experienced with the rise of digital over print or seen how simple photographs can be developed into stereoviews or cinemagraphs - we will continue to see our personal and professional lives overlap. Here are three steps I recommend to help clear up the confusion.

Step One: Social Media Goals

Lay out your professional goals alongside your personal goals. This will allow you to see where the two meet and divide. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Brian Solis’ article The Social Media Style Guide: 8 Steps to Creating a Brand Persona on why you should reflect on the identity of your brand, how it is defined now and how it will evolve.

Step Two: Points of Differentiation

With your goals in mind, you should be able to differentiate your professional and personal social accounts. There are three types of categories:

1. Not Linked means you keep your professional and personal accounts separated. Use your personal account to grow your brand and less to discuss topics not related to your industry – you need to figure out the rate of industry to personal posts based on your goals. I recommend 90% of material be industry-related and 10% personal because keeping a “human” element to your social accounts is extremely important when creating followers. People are intrigued by who you are and what interests you, but generally in terms of your business, won’t be that interested in a tweet saying “Just on my lunch break and it’s free coffee day! Lucky me!”

Illustrator Thomas James’ personal artist site is Thomas James Illustration and his professional/business blog is Escape From Illustration Island. On one hand, James wants to promote his personal business with @thomas_james, while he promotes his professional blog at @illo_island and Escape From Illustration Island on Facebook.

2. Linked means your personal accounts were most likely created to promote your business and to portray your expertise in the field. If this is the case, and you happened to switch jobs, your personal account would probably become non-existent. Again, the ratio for business to personal posts depends on your goals, but I have observed that most follow the 90-10 rule.

PhotoShelter is one possible example of this, as the personal accounts linked to it may or may not have been started to promote PhotoShelter. PhotoShelter is the business site, along with @photoshelter and Facebook fan page PhotoShelter. Its personal accounts belong to Allen Murabayashi @allen3m, Grover Sanschagrin @heygrover, and Andrew Fingerman @awfingerman.

3. Combined accounts mean your personal and professional accounts are linked. You post about your business, your industry and your personal life.

Photographer and Director Chase Jarvis is the owner of Chase Jarvis Photography. Jarvis has a Twitter account @chasejarvis and Facebook fan page Chase Jarvis.

Step Three: Interact

Your accounts must provide value, variety and context in order to succeed. How? Professional accounts generally include business updates, partner news, industry events and industry facts/news while your personal accounts should demonstrate your expertise in the field by sharing your work and passion for your industry.

When you interact with others via your professional account, make a conscious effort to use a voice that reflects your brand’s personality, not your own – otherwise you will confuse or even lose followers. And as previously stated, don’t confuse “private” with “personal.” Through your personal account or combined account, you can build a loyal following and gain the respect of major players in your industry. Anything you post is public, so if you value the privacy of your life outside of work, I recommend using your discretion on what you post about it.

Please leave me any questions you have on social media and how to make the most out of your accounts!

About Christine

Christine Andrews is Agency Access' SEO/Social Media Assistant. When she's not busy tweeting, liking or chatting with industry followers, you can find her working on blogs, playing around with graphic design, or baking cookies for the office. Agency Access

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