Professional vs. personal social media presence
Over the years, social media has evolved from its initial purpose of personal enjoyment and entertainment to a tool that is used in almost every professional space. The creation of digital marketing has been sculpted to reach a person or businesses’ specific target market by simply using analytics to source information. All this to say, it is important for students to understand the social media shift from either personal to professional, or a combination of both.
It can be difficult to understand how to navigate a social media presence when you want to incorporate your professional life with your personal.
According to the Social Media Communication Officer at Fanshawe College, Sarah Wells, these are some of the questions you can ask yourself:
1. How much are you going to share in a professional capacity versus what you’re going to share in a personal capacity that can lead to safety concerns, employment concerns?
2. Are you aware of who’s following you and why they are following you?
3. What information are you comfortable sharing?
4. How do you want to position yourself in a professional capacity? Is that the same as your personal?
If you’re an avid social media user, whether it be for personal use or professional use, you’ve likely come across a series of different types of accounts. Some people choose to have a private social media account that is shared with only a selected amount of people, whilst also having a separate professional account that is made public to appear as their social media presence. This option is best for people who aren’t comfortable with sharing their personal life with everyone but still need to have a professional presence for themselves. On the other hand, for those who work in industries that go hand-in-hand with their personal life, it may make more sense for them to combine their accounts.
An agent from eXp Realty, Holly Green, shared that there are certain platforms/pages that she keeps on private and others that she keeps professional with some relatable personal content.
“I do find that there are a lot of businesses that merge the two and post a little bit of personal and a little bit of business,” Green said.
Some platforms have been introduced as a professional tool such as LinkedIn or Facebook’s Meta for Business. That said, it doesn’t mean that other platforms such as TikTok and Instagram can’t be used in a professional aspect.
Green acknowledged that her Instagram account is a blend of professional with personal, and because of that, she has to be mindful of what she posts onto that account.
“I try and keep it politics-free as much as I can. I try and make it opinion based unless I have fact-based advice, and I definitely try and keep it fairly neutral,” Green said.
One of the ways in which using a blended personal and professional social media account has helped Green in her career is because of the relatable and more “human” aspect that this brings.
“I run into people all the time at different events and it’s like they really know me,” Green said.
Whilst having separate accounts might sound like the safer option for some, students should be mindful of the challenges that come with doing that.
According to Fanshawe Student Union (FSU) President, Stephin Sathya, when he created a separate Instagram account for professional use, it was difficult to transfer his following from his personal account to the professional one.
“I tried to shift all of my friends over to the professional account, but it didn’t have the same appeal,” Sathya said.
Additionally, Sathya acknowledged that he made the move to combine his two accounts to gain more reach and because of the analytics tool on Instagram, he was able to see the positive impact in this.
Social media is a very diverse tool that has become a part of our daily lives. When it comes to distinguishing your personal and professional accounts as well as platform privacy settings, it’s important to take note of your company policies in this regard, what benefit you will gain from a professional account and lastly who your niche target is.
Consider your steps creating an online presence carefully so that it enhances your career path in a way that you are comfortable with.