Social Media: Work & Play? Or All Business?

“Do I need separate personal & work social media accounts?”

Social Media: Work & Play? Or All Business?

These days, almost everyone has an online presence via social media. If you’re also a business owner – or have interests and projects you want to share with the world – you have a choice to make. You can promote your endeavor via your pre-existing “personal” social media accounts, start new business- or project-specific accounts, or do a little of both on a case-by-case and service-by-service basis.

Facebook, in particular, makes this decision relatively easy and encourages you to create a separate page. (I’ll discuss the effectiveness of this in a later post.) But others, such as Twitter and Instagram, are more free-form.

Which is the best path? It depends. The good news is that your social media presence can and should(!) evolve as your needs and audiences do.

I recently split my Twitter presence into distinct work and personal accounts. Here’s a look at my thought process.

Factors to consider.

First, I asked myself some questions about my business projects and how I use social media. Above all, be honest about your expectations and the most likely reality.

Questions about your endeavor:

  • What are you trying to achieve on social media? Does it tie-in to your organization’s/endeavor’s mission and values?
  • Who do you want and need to reach to make that happen? Who is your audience?
  • What do you want to happen as a result of reaching those individuals? How will it contribute to what you are trying to achieve?
  • Via social media, can I offer something that both creates value for the individuals of my target audience AND forwards my goals and objectives?
  • Important: Do you plan to sell or merge your business/project? If yes, save yourself a headache and create a dedicated account for the endeavor. The eventual purchaser or partner will likely consider whichever account you’ve been using to promote the endeavor a business asset – especially if you’ve built any kind of following.

Questions about how you use social media:

  • Which social networking services do you already use and do you enjoy using? Where are you most active? If you are familiar with and enjoy a service, you’re more likely to post – and keep posting.
  • How many followers/fans do you currently have?
  • Who is following you on those services? Do they share similarities with those you are trying to reach for your endeavor? Look at any stats the services may provide and at your posts that have generated the most likes, retweets, shares, and comments.
  • Why are they following you? Be honest with yourself and (again) look at the stats.
  • How many personal friends and followers are part of the audience you need to reach for your endeavor? Any new account you create will have a much smaller audience than the original one, at first. Keep this in mind as you decide which part of your online presence to spin off.

The case for the all-in-one Twitter account.

When I worked for the anime company, I was responsible for managing its Twitter account on a day-to-day basis – writing the tweets and interacting with its followers. Less than an hour after launching its profile, I created my own.

A co-worker and I followed each other immediately. Other mutual follows included colleagues at other companies, vendors, media outlets, editors, journalists, and bloggers. Many anime and manga fans also followed me – including several I had known before I joined the industry.

In effect, I had a work account (the company’s) and a personal account (mine).

My personal tweets tended to be peripherally related to work – what anime I was watching, what books I was reading, links to anime news and reviews. My job at the time was why many initially followed me, but they stuck around because we shared many, many common interests.

Work was work. Personal was work and play.

The case for separate Twitter accounts.

When I left the company several years later, it made sense to keep everything on one Twitter account. I was busy trying to sell my house. It wasn’t professionally (or audience) appropriate to share the work I was doing. I was still mostly talking about what I was watching, reading, etc.

Then two things changed:

  1. I launched my own business – and began to tweet (and retweet) about marketing, public relations, and business topics more often.
  1. I started publishing a weekly column about a personal interest that was quasi-professional – online streaming options for Asian television dramas. As part of this project, I promote each week’s new installment via both Twitter and Pinterest.

Those who followed me for marketing and business were probably bewildered by the deluge of K-drama and J-drama tweets during the late afternoons and evenings. Many of my longtime pals only care about the present-day work tweets if they affect them or are related directly to me.

My mix of Twitter friends and followers had evolved. It was time to separate the accounts by both topic and intended audience.

  • The original account now focuses on personal, extracurricular, and fandom subjects. Its tweets appear on the timelines of friends who share my same interests. Note: There were more of them than there were marketing and business professionals.
  • My new account features professional and work-interest content and provides me with a platform to more effectively interact and network with both those in my field and prospective clients and contacts.

There are a handful of individuals who follow both accounts. However, they have the option of tailoring my content to their interests by following one account, the other, or both.

Occasionally, there will be times when content will overlap onto both accounts IF it is of interest to both sets of followers. (One account will retweet the other in this circumstance.)

Strategically dividing my Twitter presence between the two audience-targeted accounts will allow me to provide more relevant content and better serve each account’s friends and followers.

How do you use social media? What other factors would you consider in your situation?

Let me know via Facebook, Twitter, or email!

“Social Media” icon by Jim Slatton, via The Noun Project.