I have written a couple of recent blog posts that have touched on this topic, but where is your personal boundary on social media?
‘Personality, not personal’ explored where you might draw your own line. Everybody is different and will decide what is best for them.
And for most people like me, it will be a wavy rather than straight line!
I know people who have two Twitter accounts, one for them as a person, and one for their business. I prefer to have one account, @alysonreay, which I use to represent myself in my business, and also for limited chat with business and personal contacts, taking care not to step too far into the personal.
I am particularly thinking of Facebook today.
It is essential that if you are representing a business, you do so on a Facebook business page and not through a personal profile.
I touched on this in my blog ‘Down with the kidz’, in which I mentioned someone who told me his grand-daughter was ‘doing his social media’ for his business, and when I looked it up, found a Facebook personal profile with a few ‘friends’ and little activity.
I have 2 Facebook accounts. One is my personal profile where I chat with ‘friends’, share photos and relax in my tone and style when I post comments. My friends are made up of family, friends and former colleagues.
My business Facebook page, JustleaveitwithmeLtd, is where my Just leave it with me contacts find me talking about things in my business, and posting mostly work related content. I am myself, but the version of me is the one at my desk or at a networking meeting, not me on the sofa in my pyjamas or at a family wedding.
It is true that some of my Facebook friends have come over and ‘liked’ my business page, but it is open and public for anyone who finds it interesting to participate. I have a link to it from my business website and on various networking profiles.
Of course you should still show personality on your business page, but the people who have liked your business page have done so because they want to know more about you in the context of your business. Here you can share the material that they have opted to see, and that the friends on your personal page don’t want in their timeline unless they have liked your business page too.
With apologies to any new business contacts who may have sent a ‘friend’ request to my personal profile, I do not accept these requests, but please ‘like’ my business page and chat there.
This is where I have set my personal boundary.
I should state clearly that anyone who is using a personal Facebook profile to promote a business is risking having that profile shut down, as it breaks Facebook’s rules.
And there are other reasons why you should draw a boundary and open a Facebook business page for your small business:
- Unlike personal profile pages, search engines such as Google find Facebook business pages, increasing your visibility online. After all, you are putting in this effort in order that your business is found online, aren’t you?
- Only your own friends will be hearing about your business exploits if you are using a personal profile page. Even if you have opened your privacy settings, do you really think that your business contacts want to know that much about you and your personal life, and that of your friends?
- Visitors to a business page who do not really know you, are far more likely to ‘like’ your business page, knowing that you cannot see their personal information. And they will receive your business updates in their personal feed. If you were using a personal profile for your business, anyone becoming your ‘friend’ would be giving you access to their personal profile too, and it is unlikely they would be comfortable with this.
- Your business will not show up on searches when it is hidden in a personal profile. But anyone searching in Facebook for a ‘plumber in Surrey’ will get Facebook business page results based on the keywords, ‘Plumber’ and ‘Surrey’.
- Both Facebook personal profiles and business pages have activity logs, but the business pages have an added insights, or analytics feature which allows you to clearly see more detail. You can see the new ‘likes’ on your page, how many people have seen each post and the level of interaction on each post. This enables you to tailor your future content based on what you know your contacts have engaged with in the past, as well as the profile of your fans.
- You can use apps to bring more content onto your Facebook business page, and you can run contests and make offers, both of which are banned from personal pages.
- Scheduling posts within Facebook business pages is so easy, and it looks as if you have just posted it. I know you can also post within Hootsuite, for example, but you have more control of how it looks within the Facebook page itself.
- If you have something to say that you particularly want to reach a larger audience, you can pay to promote a post. The cost depends on how far you want its reach to extend, the minimum being friends of your business page ‘fans’.
- You can set a memorable ‘vanity URL’ or username for your business page which is easy to tell people about. (This may happen immediately, or after 30 likes, depending on a few variables in the set up.)
- And finally, you can appoint admins to work on your account, without giving away access to your personal pages, and having to log out to let someone else log in. Trusted support can add content and respond to comments on your behalf, maintaining the presence your fans expect. This is the way that I work on my client accounts.
Don’t worry, if you are running your business through a personal profile, it is not too late to rectify this. Facebook has enabled you to migrate it to a business page, and let your people know where to find you. I suggest you take advantage of this option!