Blurred Lines: Your Professional and Personal Social Media Personas Are One

Fact: The lines are blurred between “professional” and “personal” personas on social media.Blurred personal and professional lines

Is that a positive thing? Is it negative? Quite honestly, I think it’s a little bit – or maybe a lot – of both.

Like it or not, you are your brand on social media. Whether you’re a small business owner, a professional working for someone else or someone looking for a job, what you post on your personal social media accounts will, without a doubt, color how others see you professionally as well.

So what? Do you:

  1. …walk on eggshells and only post plain vanilla content and commentary so you never ruffle any feathers?
  2. …take a “devil may care” attitude, speak what’s on your mind, and say “to hell” with anyone who doesn’t like it?

Really, that’s up to you. But be aware that choice “b” will probably have consequences. Assuming that not all of your business colleagues, clients, bosses and potential employers hold the same position on issues like politics, religion (or lack thereof), gay rights, and other potentially volatile topics, you’re likely to either piss off or completely alienate people.  And that could hurt your business, ax your chances of a promotion, or put you out of the running for a new job.

I’ve focused on the extremes here, but I believe there are also ways to respectfully share your positions on certain topics and beliefs without appearing confrontational and exclusive. Your approach means EVERYTHING when addressing sensitive topics. If you invite civilized discussion and respond without attacking those who respectfully disagree, you stand a better chance of maintaining good will and keeping relationships intact.

Your turn to share! How do you manage the lack of divide between your personal and professional social media personas?

5 comments on “Blurred Lines: Your Professional and Personal Social Media Personas Are One
  1. krisbradley says:

    As we were talking about on Facebook earlier this week Dawn, I have been really struggling with this for the last two months. I am recently unemployed, so I am now searching for full time employment. Throughout my life I have never been one to shy away from saying what is on my mind, especially on Facebook. I have been told that I am one of those guys that wears his heart on his sleeve, which can be a good or a bad thing.

    I will admit that I don’t like the idea of having to censor myself, but I do understand why it has come to this. I am trying to be more conscience now before I post something that might be even slightly taken out of context.

    I would like to add that I have never been told that I have offended anybody on social media and I am confident that what I post is always done with the best taste and interest of engagement in mind.

    I like how you use the the word respect in the post Dawn. That is probably the most important thing to remember in this particular case. If you think it is even remotely disrespectful to your audiens, I would suggest you don’t post it.

    • dawnmentzer says:

      Thanks for sharing, Kris. I always appreciate your insight!

      Your tone on social media is always respectful. Even when you have an alternate opinion on a topic, you welcome healthy debate and other points of view.

      I consider you a model social media citizen! 😉

      Thanks again for your thoughts!

  2. wendykomancheck says:

    Hi Dawn,
    I try to keep 2 separate personas–my friend self on fb, and my professional self on LI. Those are my only 2 social media outlets, and I try to keep them separate because each of them serves a different purpose. Also, I don’t think a person should divorce her values & beliefs…however, I do believe that a respectful tone should be used rather than a judgmental one. I’ve worked hard over the past year to soften my tone. Yet, there is a sense of intolerance to different beliefs from society at large, too.

    • dawnmentzer says:

      Thanks for sharing, Wendy! I completely agree that no one should ever compromise their beliefs and values…it’s the intolerance (in general) that you mentioned that unfortunately makes sharing views a slippery slope when the lines are blurred between Personal and Professional on social media. It would be marvelous if everyone could simply “agree to disagree” and not pass judgement!

      I think on Facebook it’s particularly difficult to make a separation…friends “like” our Facebook pages and business people (clients, vendors, etc.) “friend” us on our personal pages. Good or bad, I find myself thinking twice about my tone and content more on my personal FB than I did before I had a business page. My presence on Twitter, LinkedIn (of course), and Google+ are all professionally-focused so I pretty much follow the same MO as my Facebook page with them – with some variation to suit each individual audience.

      Hope all is well with you! And thank you again for your input!

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