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Combining personal & business online: 5 guidelines/tips.

My 5 tips on building your personal brand by having a healthy personal + business presence on your social media channels.

During dinner two weeks ago in Buenos Aires, Ben Marks told me I should write a book on how I – as a (semi)public person – am active on social media (he didn’t specifically use the term “oversharing” but I got the hint), yet remain a (healthy?) balance between a business and a personal life. There may or may not have been some strong Argentinian Caipirinha involved with that request and I doubt Ben rememers it. A book also seems a tad bit over the top but I thought I could at least write a blogpost about it. I’m airborne for 12 hours without wifi anyway, what else is there to do?

Personal brand or business brand?

If you are active on social media and your work involves the internet then you’re activity is part of your own (personal and business) brand. For many people the line between a personal/business life became more blurred over the last years and it’s sometimes hard to use a social network for either your business or personal network. Do you connect with your colleagues on Facebook? Do you want your family to follow you on Twitter? Do you want potential customers to see your Instagram feed? There are a few different aspects and approaches and I wanted to share mine with you.

First of: I don’t advocate keeping your business and personal life completely separate. What’s a comfortable level will be different from person to person.

And it’s also not about having a split personality: I (like to) think I behave pretty much the same whether it’s a business or private context. It’s not that I don’t talk about what I do for a living with my friends. But I don’t necessarily want my friends and family pulled into my business life or the other way around. For their sake ánd mine.

I make deliberate choices about what I include or exclude in whatever I publish online (where in my case the audience is mainly from my business life). Below are my own guidelines/tips. I believe these can be useful for you too, let me know what you think in the comments!

My 5 tips

  1. If it only involves me, it’s fine to post whatever. BUT as soon as people from my personal life get involved OR business people who themselves are not (that) public or nor that active on Social Media I become much more restrictive. Restrictive in sharing their names and pictures of them that is, I can still post about the activity.
    On the other hand: If that person itself is usually open and active online, I become a lot less restrictive. So when it comes to @benmarks I have no limits ;p…
    https://twitter.com/guido/status/675077508295991296
  2. Shares are not restricted to business related info. On the contrary. I share pictures of my home, things I do outside work, food and travel pictures… I work a lot (which I enjoy) you’ll usually see work related stuff, but not all serious. I’m still me ;). But that’s usually (on the side) intended to build a better/ more personal relationship and have fun with all my business friends.
  3. Discuss your choices with your friends and ask what would and would not be ok for them. If you never include them on social media channels which they do read/see, it might be very weird to them if you never include them. They might feel as if they aren’t a part of your life. Especially initiate this talk with you significant other and close family. That I don’t share that much about them doesn’t mean I don’t value them or don’t see them as a part of my life, it’s me being protective :).
  4. If your friends/family are also active online: consider creating different accounts. I don’t have that issue because most of my friends and small family don’t actively use social media (they are mainly lurking, high mom!) so for me there is nothing to separate. It might make sense when there is a lot of overlap and issues coming from that, but that does main maintaining double accounts…
  5. If there are offline events: do bring your family or friends to them sometimes. It’s fun for them to see what you do and meet the people you work with (and Tweet or Skype with all night long…). And also fun for your business friends to get a peek into your personal life and ask your family “is/was he always this weird…?”

So how do you maintain a healthy separation/balance and built your personal brand?