As you are building your personal brand on social media, you will need to decide whether you should keep your personal and business accounts separate.
There is no right or wrong answer to this and it will be different for everyone depending on what they do and their level of comfort.
Although we have been using many social platforms for years, there is still a level of uncertainty as to how much we should share about ourselves online. Some of this has changed in the last few months since the pandemic and as the workforce continues to get younger, with millennials now a significant part of the workforce who grew up with social media as part of their daily lives.
Should you allow people who you know through business to be friends with you on Facebook and Instagram? If you do, what content is okay to share with them? Should you make your Instagram account private? Should you post photos of your kids and partner on the same account you use for business purposes? When does a good professional relationship become a friendship, and how do social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram affect this? These are all important questions to think about.
Showing your personality and unique brand should be a given for any business marketing strategy. But the question that faces many business professionals today is: how personal should you be?
Social media is all about personal branding – about showing yourself in a positive light to both friends and business contacts. Ask yourself if there’s really anything on your personal page you wouldn’t want contacts to see. At this point in your career, you shouldn’t be posting that kind of content anyway (please stay away from all political debates on social and go through your college days albums and “prune” your profile of any less than professional photos).
If you follow my blog, you know I discuss my personal life at times – my dog, my challenges, what led me to become an entrepreneur, etc. Because we are all a sum of our past experiences. But I choose to keep my social media accounts separate – my personal account is for my personal life and my professional account is for my professional life. This is in part because of the industry in which I am – professional services is more buttoned up than for example if I was in a lifestyle category or the entertainment field. Then it would make more sense to merge my personal and professional lives on social media.
Here are a few pros of separating your accounts:
- Your business may become overshadowed with personal posts, causing your audience to not be clear on what you are trying to sell/what you do
- A personal account can be private as a way to share moments with just friends and family
Here are a few cons of separating your accounts:
- You have to create twice the amount of content to keep both of your audiences engaged
- It is harder to build a niche audience for your business with targeted content for your ideal client
By keeping your social media accounts separate, you have more freedom to post the things you want to on your personal pages and keep your brand pages focused on things strictly related to your business.
For businesses with a more corporate structure, you would probably be better off separating your accounts.
At the end of the day, you should be creating as much content as possible as quickly as possible, so if you’re feeling stressed about creating too much content with just one account, consider keeping your accounts combined.
As I mentioned above, I personally keep my professional life separate from my personal life on social. I don’t want to share everything about my family, my significant other and my dog with those in my professional network. This is a personal choice that I’ve made – and again, there’s no right or wrong answer to merging the accounts, or having a private or public Instagram profile.
Over the past year, I did a fairly significant social media purge, meaning that I deleted a lot of people from my social media accounts with whom I was previously friends. I think it’s a good thing to do this every now and then.
Please do note that if you have a private account on Instagram, the only thing that you can restrict others from seeing are your stories – this is different than on Facebook where you can set audience selectors for each post. This is why I am very careful with who I accept as a friend on Instagram – it’s limited to close friends and family.
When thinking about whether you should keep your accounts separate or merge them together, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your client/customer want to see a mix of your business and personal life?
- Does s/he find personal updates interesting?
- Does s/he prefer to see professional/business-driven content from you?
Answering these questions will help you determine what is the right path to take when it comes to what you share about your life on Instagram. The most important thing you can do on Instagram is to create content of value to your target audience consistently.
When representing yourself on social media – whether on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you can use these channels to interact with friends and business contacts. Crossovers happen often, a contact will start as one and become another. Consider the impression you want to give to everyone in your life.
It has never been more important to explore friendship within business relationships and social media provides an excellent platform to share your personality and let people into your (curated) world.