Social media is huge these days, used by individuals and businesses alike. For businesses, balancing the tipping scales between personal and professional use is important and vital to building and maintaining a professional image. Many entrepreneurs have the added responsibility of maintaining a business image outside of the office. Being in the business of you is a 24/7 job. Your social media pages play a big part in your professional image.
Below are a few important things to remember when utilizing your social media as a savvy entrepreneur.
Be Cautious of New Friends
Just because you’ve met a new contact at a networking event or had a friend or business request a connection doesn’t mean you need to connect via social media sites. Just like your mom always used to say, “Your friends are a reflection of who you are.” Be sure that when others look into your profile, your friends list isn’t full of profiles that may not project a positive image. Also, you may run the risk of being on the receiving end of inappropriate wall posts or comments that can be read by others before you are able to delete them.
The same goes for businesses or products that you “like.” Though you may really love a few bars around town or promote the legalization of marijuana, you should refrain from expressing viewpoints on controversial issues.
Keep Personal and Business Connections Completely Separate
Not only does repetitive blasting of marketing pieces about your business to all of your friends get annoying, it’s also not a good idea to comingle personal and business connections. Just as your friends likely don’t want their news feed or tweets to be jammed with the advertising of their friends, it’s usually not appropriate for business connections to see photos of you in your bathing suit last summer.
Luckily, Facebook has caught up with the clear need to separate the different facets of our lives and now allows users to form different groups within a friends list. By dividing your friends into groups, you can contain viewing of certain postings to certain groups. It would definitely behoove you to spend time filtering your list of friends and assigning presets for each group.
You Are Your Brand
As an entrepreneur, you are your own brand. Your friends should view you professionally when it comes to your business. Most entrepreneurs don’t rely solely on friends for business, but oftentimes your friends will refer your business to other friends or acquaintances. If you don’t have credibility with your friends, they will not be a good referral base.
While it may be appropriate (or at least more acceptable) for your little sister to post photos of her weekend exploits or controversial updates, entrepreneurs have to be more careful about the image they portray to the public. Unfortunately, the entrepreneur does not have the luxury of a completely divided personal and professional life as someone working as say, a barista at Starbucks. A negative image of the barista is extremely unlikely to lose business for a multinational behemoth.
Consider What You Share
Just as you should refrain from posting inappropriate photos to your page, it is important to spend a few extra minutes doing a bit of research before posting a link, video or an update. Though you may come across an article online that you find compelling and relevant to your business, check the reputation of the source of the article. Though this particular post may be ideal, it may be located on a site you may not want to represent on your page. Also, be sure to peruse a few other articles on that site, and check the quality of the site. Imagine your readers were to click your link, read the article and subsequently discover that you’ve directed them to an inappropriate site or an address that may get them in trouble at their home or office.
Create a Business Page
As an extension of your website or even your blog, a business page is a great way to be sure your connections and content remain separate. A business page is linked through your personal account, so it is simple enough to access, manage and navigate. You are free to invite the friends from your personal page to follow your business page if you feel it would be appropriate for the crossover. Additionally, it allows you to post those personal pictures, say, of your birthday party, on a page viewable to only closest friends. It also ensures that business contacts are receiving the proper image of your business, aiding in the development of professional relationships.
Drawing a line between your personal and more official professional image is utterly mandatory. Utilize the fantastic features Facebook offers by building a professional business page, then categorizing your personal page into groups. As an entrepreneur, you will likely have a bit of crossover between your professional and personal lifestyles. Be careful to ensure that your image is appropriately depicted to each set of readers.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.