Social Media: Business vs. Personal
by Susan Young
It’s important to keep them separate
Social media can be a very personal communication medium. And, it can serve as a powerful business-building tool. Yet, there are areas where people blur the lines between business and personal on social media, and this is a dangerous line to cross. If you are a small business owner, you may have both business and personal social media accounts. You may use your personal social media accounts to post on behalf of your business. How is a business owner to know what is appropriate and what is not in the new world of social media? And what are the best ways to keep your business and personal matters separate?
Start with Yourself
To leverage social media from a business standpoint, we must first start by setting up, reviewing and getting comfortable with your personal social media profiles. Most people have set up at least a basic profile on LinkedIn for networking and job searching, and a Facebook or Twitter profile for connecting with others and viewing local, industry or national news and happenings. Social media sites allow you to set up an individual profile in addition to a business profile. By first taking the time to get to know the social media channel you’re planning to use for business, you can better understand how to maximize the channel for your business. Some ways you can do this include joining groups, adding friends or connections, and following other relevant individuals, companies and organizations. Start noticing the information coming across the daily news feed. Pay attention to the advertisers using the social media channel and their messaging. Once you have become familiar with the social media platform, the benefits of using it, and the typical style of posts, you can focus on your business account.
Create your Business Profile
If you have successfully created personal profiles on your social media networks of choice, you can now create your business profiles. I cannot stress enough that your business profile should be kept separate and unique from your personal page/profile. There are many reasons why this makes sense. First, each social media site offers different rules and policies surrounding business and personal profiles or pages. Some personal pages are limited to a certain number of followers, and are not able to advertise their page in the same way that a business page can. Second, you want to set up a business page to attract customers, and doing it the proper way will ensure that you have all the resources available from the network to achieve results with your page. These include methods for finding new followers, advertising options and more. Finally, there are some dangers to “mixing business with pleasure” on social media, and you don’t want to risk harming your business reputation over a personal matter. More on that subject later. If you consider yourself the brand, in the case of authors, musicians or other similar businesses, you still need to set up a separate personal and business page. As an example, on Facebook, there is an option for creating a business account with the category “author” or “entertainer.” This will allow you to have a page just for communicating and interacting with close friends and family, and another one to promote your business and gain fans. On social media sites such as Twitter, you may find it easier to create two separate accounts – one for your business and one for your personal side. This allows you more freedom to follow and post what you like on either page, rather than limiting yourself to what is appropriate from both a business and a personal standpoint.
Caveats on Social Media Usage
Having seen many business professionals break the rules, here are some words of caution on getting a little too personal on your business social media account:
- Be objective. Make sure that what you say on your business social media page will not offend someone. If it’s a heated political, personal or religious issue, it’s often best to steer clear of mentioning it on your business page (or even your personal page, if your business page is linked from your profile).
- Your reputation is always on the line. This includes people and companies you associate with your business, pages you like and follow, and posts in which you share or provide a comment. Make sure it makes sense for your business before you post it, like it, follow it or share it.
- Remember that your employees also represent your business. Anything they say or do can be reflective of your business reputation, so hire those with a “clean” social media record, and train your employees on how to conduct themselves properly on social media.
- Do share appropriate messages and announcements from your business page to your personal page. This can allow the viral marketing effect to help your business page grow and increase its following. You can also encourage your friends and family as well as your employees to follow and share relevant business posts.
A Happy Mix of Business and Pleasure
Social media can be a great way to grow your business. A business owner shouldn’t be concerned about the risk of launching or growing a business social media account, if it is set up and managed separately from a personal one. If you’ve been using your personal page for business purposes, it is not too late to transition away from that method, using the tips above. Once you have created your business account, you can use your personal influence and following to gain more fans for your business. When you start sharing and posting interesting content, social media can help show off your brand’s personality and your company’s uniqueness, and inevitably your tribe will start following.
By Susan Young