November 2, 2010
Business vs. Personal: How to Keep Your Online Personas Separate
The Double Edged SwordThe Internet and social media have opened up virtually limitless audiences to our marketing and sales efforts, but these opportunities also come at a cost. If you also use social media and other avenues of online communication in your personal life, the lines can be blurred pretty quickly. It is not uncommon for employers to look someone up online and see if anything interesting pops up. The same goes for clients, coworkers, joint venture partners and anyone else who has a stake in how you market yourself. Leaving a post, tweeting, updating a status or even commenting on a web page are all so easy many of us don’t give a second thought about it. However, the Internet has a perfect memory and as long as someone knows how, they can dig up pretty much anything you have said or done online ever.
Be Yourself But Be AwareThis doesn’t mean that if you’re trying to create an online marketing presence you can’t have a personality, be funny or interject your individuality into your work. In fact, people will choose to do business with someone they know and like over someone they don’t, even if your deal isn’t as good as theirs. The more you show that there is a human being behind all the ones and zeros, the more trust you will build with your audience. If you’re looking to form a strong brand, become recognized as an expert or get someone to give you their hard money, this is necessary. You just have to make smart decisions about how and what you put out there for the whole world to see if you want to avoid a potential exodus of business later.
Personal and Business Online HarmonyIf you’re going to use the Internet and social media to promote your business while also maintaining personal accounts, then you need to do the following to make sure you’re not sending out the wrong message:
Google YourselfStart off by finding what’s out there about you. Luckily, most people don’t look past the first page of search engine results, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Take the time to thoroughly go through at least the first ten pages of searches. Also make sure you check search results for images, videos, forums, news and other sections.
Use Different AccountsIf you have a personal Facebook profile, don’t simply add a Facebook page (for businesses) onto it. Keep your professional and personal lives as separate as possible by using different accounts for each. Make sure you have your privacy settings properly set for your situation. Facebook automatically sets theirs to the loosest possible and you have to go in and edit them.
Use Different NetworksFacebook and Twitter are geared towards more personal content, but there are also social networks like LinkedIn that are professionally orientated. Consider separating the two sides of you even more by having all your personal stuff on one platform and your business stuff on another. Also, the popularity of industry specific social networks is exploding. By putting your business self on these, not only are you keeping things separated but you’re also networking and engaging potential customers, employers and other people you want to impress.
Control Your ContentEven if you have done a good job of managing different accounts, the content you post in the form of pictures, video and updates is going to be out there. It doesn’t take much to find it. Before you post anything, run through this checklist mentally:
- Propriety: Your post might seem acceptable to you, but look at it from the point of view of people who want to do business with you. While you can’t always please everyone, do your best to keep it on the up and up.
- Avoid Controversy: Unless it’s part of your marketing plan, avoid contentious or controversial subjects in your posts. Your political leanings or religious beliefs may be very important to you, but you have to understand that there are people out there that don’t agree with you and may not do business with you based on them.
- The Grandma Test: Before you hit the “submit” button ask your, “If Grandma saw this, would she be happy with me?” If it can’t pass the Grandma test, then you might offend some clients and it’s a no go.
- Brand Image: You shape your brand’s image online by the things you post. So, when you are putting up content ask yourself if what you are doing is adding value to your brand. If you find that you’re posting a lot of complaining, negative comments, attacks on others or just useless garbage, then you’re image is going to suffer and so will business.