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Professional v personal: the balancing act of social media

The Drum Social is a weekly column from The Drum’s social media executive Amy Houston covering the latest social media trends, strategies and insights. Follow Amy @AmyCLHouston and join in the conversation #TheDrumSocial

Navigating the professional vs personal balancing act of social media.

Separating your work and home life can be challenging for many people in a wide range of professions. Throw a global pandemic and a job role that’s predominantly online into the mix, and the lines can become quite blurred very quickly. As a social media manager, I’ve often thought about the professional versus personal balancing act online. How much is too much to share on social? Where should you draw the line?

Social media can be a wonderful place for professionals to gain career advice or aspirations, and the more seriously you take it the more you’ll get out of it, as it’s a key part of how business is done these days. Building an online presence is essential and using platforms such as LinkedIn to seek out job opportunities can benefit your career progression greatly. So how do you let people into your world in a professional sense, yet still stay true to yourself and showcase your own uniqueness?

There is a huge amount of value in establishing your personal tone of voice on social media. Sharing your opinions and professional skills is a great way to engage an audience and could ultimately help you land a job, gain new connections, bring awareness to your organization or even restore faith in a brand. If the latter is your goal then I would suggest being mindful of company policies around social media use. And if there are no guidelines in place, then as a social media manager that is a top priority.

We know that many consumers trust information from a person they know when it comes to purchasing decisions, so leveraging personal connections on social media is a brilliant way to elevate brand confidence with your audience. There are many effective ways to do this, from posting in LinkedIn or Facebook groups to sparking conversations on Twitter with thought-provoking questions, to participating in other people’s discussions to make yourself visible if you have something of value to add. My belief around being more personable online is simple: behave in the same way you would offline.

Consistency is key in the personal versus professional balancing act. If you feel like you can contribute in a positive way to a trending topic then do so, but stay true to your beliefs across all platforms. Decide on what you want to be known for because social media users have no issue in scrutinizing people for wavering sentiments or performative behavior, and it’s not a good look personally or professionally. The internet has a long memory.

Social media is constantly evolving and the way that we communicate on the many platforms changes too. My view is that your professional social media should be viewed as a multimedia resume – a somewhat curated way to showcase your unique skill set. When it comes to being more personable on different channels, I think it can be a great way of positioning yourself as a thought leader within your industry and keeps you connected with likeminded people. The two approaches can complement each other well with a bit of a strategy in place.

We asked The Drum’s Twitter community their thoughts on this subject. Here’s what they had to say:

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