professional social media?

Is there such thing as Professional Social Media? Is it all cat memes and photos of food?

Recently I had the privilege of writing a guest blog post for Scope Vision, a wonderful local RTO I’m currently completing an Advance Diploma of Business with. It’s run by a fabulously creative and quirky lady I just adore, MJ Satterthwaite. Her brain (and business blog) is bursting full of ways to improve your leadership skills to develop yourself; and business planning tips to rock your career!

I had to find common ground between what I’m passionate about, Social Media (obvs) and what subjects her audience is interested in reading about, and have come to expect from her posts – leadership and career development.

Can you see where we’re going here?

You guessed it, LinkedIn is going to feature heavily! But it’s not the only way you can use Social Media to showcase your skills an experience. I discuss the features of LinkedIn you might not be using, and also explore Medium and Quora as other places to publish content to boost your professional authority.

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The best thing about these methods is they can be applied by anyone. You don’t have to wait until you’ve entered the workforce, publishing your own content will certainly help you stand out from the rest of your graduating class, especially now there’s a LinkedIn for Students app! Conversely you are also never too old to start!

I shared my top tips for helping you become an authority in your field using Social Media. If you’d like to read it on the Scope blog I’ve linked it HERE for you!

Anther thing I’m often asked is how connected your personal and professional Social Media should be.

Can you use your personal profiles to share your business content, and should you post personal updates on your business or professional Social Media accounts?

Well – the answer is a big IT DEPENDS.

I know that’s not what you were hoping to find, but before we explore the subject together – see what it depends ON.

I would break it down into 2 main categories: The type of person you are, and the type of business you have.

They type of person you are would be more to do with your beliefs around privacy etc., and the type of business you have speaks more about the level of appropriateness to sharing personal content on your professional Social Media platforms.

To elaborate: the level of comfort you feel about sharing certain personal details of your life to your colleagues, customers, suppliers etc. is very personal and no-one can tell you how to feel about this. No one view is right – or wrong. You can be guided by a professional advice, and should solicit some if you are unsure.
Take this example of parents posting pictures of their children on Social media! Some parents go snap-mad posting photo after photo, and other parents never post pictures of their children due to privacy and safety concerns. There’s a whole spectrum in between, but everyone is doing what feels comfortable for them.

The type of business you have makes a big difference to the appropriateness of posting personal content! It also makes a big difference whether it’s your own business or you are an employee. If you are an employee who wants to post something personal on the company Social Media channels and you’re not sure, you can always check with your boss, or your marketing team – so we’re more speaking to you about your own business.

One of the things you’ll need to take into account when deciding whether you need professional Social Media accounts is “Social Media Friendliness” of the business. Is your business in one of the categories that tend to perform well on Social Media; like food, fitness, animals, etc. Is it a SOCIAL industry?

I would expect someone who owns a patisserie to post photos of them baking, but I would not expect to hear their political views. I would not expect an accountant to post photos of them using a calculator (or whatever it is they do…) but an accountant could do well from sharing a personal update like a photo of them on the golf course as it shows their human side. (I have really stereotyped accountants and for that I apologise, I needed an example…) See what I’m saying? Clear as mud.

If your job requires you to get to know people and quickly develop a rapport, sharing personal updates can be an advantage. Think industries like hospitality and retail to name a couple. If your followers have seen your updates they could feel like they know you better – increasing their likelihood of being a customer. In marketing this is referred to as Brand Humanisation.

If you do decide to share personal updates on your professional Social Media accounts there’s definitely some guidelines to bear in mind! Here are a few:

  • Avoid alienating your potential/current customers – re-think statements that are overly political, controversial or could be offensive. You don’t want someone who loves your product to not love you and therefore stop buying.
  • Everyone’s sense of humour is different – what you might think is a harmless joke, your business contacts may not. Carefully think about who the target of the joke is. Industry humour can be ok.
  • Don’t over-share – Your professional contacts don’t need a 1,000 photo album of your recent holiday.
  • Don’t vent about work – This is a no-brainer. That difficult customer, by all means tell your significant other but do not vent about them seeking sympathy from other customers. This will make you look unprofessional.
  • Keep security details to yourself – Which days you carry cash to the bank, your work vehicle’s rego number etc. do not need to be on your professional Social Media accounts.

Let’s look at some other people’s thoughts on this subject!

The Harvard Business Review suggests that you can make 2 lists; one for colleagues and one for friends and post different updates to each list. This would avoid most potentially awkward situations – but can you remember to do this? Especially after a couple of drinks?

This article by Sprout Social offers advice in choosing whether you need business accounts and has a pretty good list of pros and cons. Be Inbound also offers some ‘what not to do’ advice for professional Social Media accounts on their post.

If you are still deciding if you need professional Social Media accounts, consider this: What is your goal? What would be the purpose of starting these accounts?

If the goal can be achieved by your personal profiles then I would suggest keeping it simple and hold off running multiple accounts.

If you need to create specific professional Social Media accounts to achieve your goals and maintain boundaries in your personal and professional life then that’s the best course of action for you.

Consider what sharing personal posting might add to your business account, and vice versa – what posting business-related updates will add to your personal profile. If it’s not going to add something or help you achieve your goals (either personal or professional) then re-think it altogether.

As I said – it depends!

If you would like to get in touch I would be happy to discuss your individual circumstances with you.

Originally published on the Social Chameleon blog.