Professionalism​ and Your Social Media: Separating​ the Personal from the Professional​

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By: Jessica Freeman, Managing Editor

As young people looking to start a career in public relations or other communication fields, it’s important to create an active social media presence that appears professional and still gives an idea of who you are. It can be hard to separate the personal and the professional on social media sites, so here are some tips to help you figure this out, before your next post.

1.) Put Your Best Foot Forward … 

We’ve heard it all before, don’t post pictures or a status that you wouldn’t want your future boss to see. Well, this advice still rings true. Employers are looking at prospective employees’ social media accounts more than ever, and you want yours to send the right image. So, it’s time to clean up your profile and put your best foot forward. This means following all the social media etiquette basics like, deleting old posts that don’t convey the best image of you. It’s important to delete old social media content that doesn’t convey your life now, and that could come off as immature or unprofessional.  You should also, put up a professional-ish profile picture. Your profile picture should be a somewhat current picture of you, that is eye-catching and professional looking. Your profile picture doesn’t need to be a professional headshot, but it should show you in your best light. So, it’s best to skip any Snapchat filters, grainy out of focus photos, or photos that show you in embarrassing or illegal situations. Speaking of embarrassing situations, it’s good to keep an eye on what other people are tagging you in. Make sure you untag yourself from any photos that friends may post that show you in compromising positions. You may also want to clean up your Facebook timeline, of any posts that other people have tagged you in or posted on your wall. Overall, you want your social media profiles to reflect the best image of you, and for future employers to see the most engaging, interesting, and professional side of you.

2.) Show Your Personality and Make Connections! 

Now that your social media is cleaned up and presentable, it’s time to make connections with the industries, people, and other things that interest you. Social media is a great way to make connections with the industries, companies, and people that you’d like to work for someday. So, follow or like influential companies, brands, and people on Twitter or Facebook. Reach out and interact with influential PR professionals on sites like Twitter. Use these platforms to your advantage, to show off the accomplishments in your life, the things that you’re interested in, and the things you’re passionate about. Being authentic on social media can be tricky, but it’s possible to show your interests without being inflammatory or inappropriate. People respect authenticity, and if you’re someone who is interested in things like politics and activism, or sports, or celebrities, this should be evident from your social media. You want future employers to have an idea of who you are, and if you’ll fit in with their workplace culture. So, you can still share personal pictures, opinions, or interests, just don’t share inappropriate pictures or extremist viewpoints. Overall, your social media content can convey your personality and interests, without going overboard on personal information or being unprofessional. Even though it is possible to have social media accounts that convey your life, both professionally and personally, some people do opt for separate professional and personal accounts.

3.) Should You Create Private, Separate Social Media Accounts? 

The question of separate social media accounts is hard to answer, it requires a person to think about their own personal brand and what they want to share on social media. If you really want to share all your personal thoughts during the day, or really want to post the pictures from that epic party, then personal accounts might make sense. Personal accounts can allow you to stay somewhat anonymous and separate from your professional image. If you do choose to go the route of separate accounts, proceed with caution. Even with the best privacy settings, your personal accounts may still be found by prospective employers, and it can be hard to manage multiple social media accounts. 

In the end, whether you merge your social media accounts to show both the personal and professional, or keep your accounts separate, it’s a personal choice that requires you to think deeply about your own personal image and brand. Even if you do merge your social media accounts, you don’t need to show off a perfect life, but you should show yourself off in a way that is personable, professional, and authentic, to all the best parts of you. 

 

Sources:

https://hbr.org/2015/03/how-to-separate-the-personal-and-professional-on-social-media

https://www.modgility.com/blog/i/professionalism-in-social-media

http://online.queens.edu/online-programs/mscomm/resources/managing-personal-vs-professional-identity-on-social-media

Image Credit:

https://pixabay.com/en/social-media-manager-online-1958774/

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