Wednesday, February 18, 2009

personal v. professional on social media

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When you start to use social media for professional communications, how do you blend the personal and the professional? The first questioner noted that, as many social media applications encourage the personal, professionals express reluctance about using them. The second questioner gets to the practical: What if your boss-- or your boss's boss --friends you on Facebook--what should you do?
These questions sound complex, but there's a simple answer: Use your good judgment. Here are a few observations:
  • It's important in work and in life for your social media posts to sound like a real person is behind them. So if you limit your posts to "Wow, working late again and loving it" or "Enjoying completing this work memo on my own time," you'll lose your authenticity. Likewise, if you're afraid to comment on others' posts or show your family photos, well, you're missing out on what social media offers. As in professional networking, tell us about your family, hobbies, travels. Be a person.
  • Use available tools. Facebook lets you create groups of friends, and you can direct updates to some groups and not to others. You also can create "secret" groups on Facebook to post and collaborate with your work colleagues privately. Test the available options and make them work for you.
  • Friend your boss? Why not? Bosses need to practice on social media, too--just use the right tools (including the one in your brain) to think through what you'll be sharing with them.
  • Overall: Think through your personal social media policy -- and do what I recommend for companies, using a deft hand and a thoughtful mind.

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