Trends & Developments - October 2014 - Professional Development: Balancing Your Personal and Professional Social Media

There's no denying it – we are surrounded by social media, and for most of us it has become a part of our daily routine. With over 255 million active users on Twitter, 50 million Facebook pages,  and 187 million monthly users logging onto LinkedIn, social media is an easy, convenient, and interactive way to connect with family, friends, colleagues, favorite brands, and not-for-profit causes you care about. It has also revolutionized how we access news and information, share content and connect with people both professionally and personally.

When integrating your professional and personal interests into one online persona, it's critical to always maintain a level of professionalism. This doesn't mean you need to censor yourself or limit your online engagement, but it's something to be mindful when presenting yourself through social media.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you balance your personal and professional brand on social media:


Be Authentic. Your social media profile should be an honest reflection of who you are in real life. Listing interests, joining professional groups, connecting with your alma mater and supporting not-for-profit causes are great ways to connect and engage with others while showcasing your personality.

Upload a Profile Picture! This may seem silly but there are a lot of profiles out there without a picture. If you won't take the time to upload a photo, you're probably going to be taken less seriously by potential employers or clients.  When choosing a profile picture, keep in mind that almost all profile pictures are public and will show up in Google searches.  

Manage Your Online Reputation. Conduct a Google search on yourself and see what shows up. You may come across pictures, old profiles and blog mentions that you didn't even know existed. Performing your due diligence can go a long way in managing your online presence.

Fill out Your Profile. If you want to grow your professional network and connect with colleagues, clients, vendors and niche groups, it's crucial to take the time to fill out your bio page. Avoid only listing basic information and try to identify industry keywords that can help  

Be Respectful. Sometimes it's easy to get carried away on social media but it's important to always maintain a level of professionalism when posting, making comments or sharing others' content. There is a lot of room for misinterpretation on social media and you don't want to post or share anything that can make you look unprofessional. 


Get Too Personal. At some point your professional and personal social media will overlap so it's in your best interest to think twice about oversharing, complaining or posting pictures that may lead to professional consequences. Don't use social media as a sounding board or a place for negativity, instead share content and experiences that can help others or add value to your followers.

Post Questionable Photos. Not all photos are for sharing, especially on social media. The pictures you share with/are tagged in by others can potentially be seen by employers, future employers and colleagues. Ask permission before tagging your friends; set up privacy settings that require your approval beforehand. You can also group your Facebook friends and restrict posts to those lists.

Assume Anything Is Private. Even if your account settings are set to private, once you put something out on social media (this includes pictures) it's out there forever. Stay abreast of new and updated privacy settings for all the social media platforms that you actively use. If you don't want colleagues and employers to see certain posts and pictures, make sure you maintain the appropriate settings.

Give Out Private Information. There is no shortage of spammers, identity thieves and salespeople on social media. Avoid giving out your personal phone number and always be mindful of what you use your work email for. Most applications and game apps can access your private information so read through the privacy settings before downloading any kind of app on social media.

Social media can be a useful professional tool, if leveraged properly, but it can also damage your personal or professional reputation in seconds. Always use your best judgment before posting or sharing content on your social media accounts.

Trends & Developments - October 2014

Alicja Patela is EisnerAmper's Digital Content Marketing Manager, with 5 years of experience in social media, communications, and digital strategy.

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