When Your Personal and Business Social Personas Collide

Social media in the enterprise is here to stay, so how can you express your personal voice while remaining professional?

With Salesforce.com’s launch of Chatter back in 2009 and its more recent “Social Enterprise” re-branding, the concept of a “Social Enterprise” has been steadily gaining momentum. I have no doubt that social media will continue to play an increasingly important and valuable role at the office. From improving internal communications with colleagues to generating new business and servicing client better, the Social Enterprise concept certainly has some teeth.

This shift in business communication had me scratching my head the other day. I’m not talking about how your grandparents, or even your parents would be scratching their heads about social media. I joined Facebook when a college email address was required, so I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been at the “Social” thing for a while – I get it. The question which keeps coming back to me is, “How do I take my already well-established personal social media persona and merge that with my developing professional persona?”

So I asked my colleague Walter Elly, who recently joined the V2 team from a prior role as Emerging Technology Director at a local agency, about his thoughts on having a split social personality. Is is reasonable to think I can have a dual social media presence with a Chinese wall between them?  His initial response was that it is not a best practice.

As I dug around a little deeper on the Internet, I continued to find proof supporting Walter’s feedback. From what I can tell, the advantages of building and maintaining a single Social persona outweigh the advantages of a split persona approach.  Below I have summarized my findings.

Advantages to a single social persona:

Easier to manage – Given that I still struggle generating enough relevant content to share with one distinct group of social followers, I am likely to fall short in creating material for multiple personas.

More authentic –  Ultimately, you are who you are.  By keeping your personal and professional personas unified, you solidify your personal brand while coming across as more genuine in your professional one.

> Easier to find – By having a single presence online you make it easier for others to find you and eliminate confusion around which persona should be followed by your friends and colleagues.

However, with every advantage comes some disadvantages which should be considered when building a single social persona.

Disadvantages to a single social persona:

> Too much information – With a single online persona, you run the risk of sharing content which may be interpreted negatively or out of context leading to the loss of a deal (if in sales), your job or respect within your professional network. My suggestion is to take a common sense approach reminding yourself that any content you share may be viewed by friends, family and business community members alike.

Sterilization of your personal voice – Bearing in mind the previous disadvantage, with a single online persona you may tend to tone down or mute your voice too much leading to a less genuine Social engagement.  My advice is to speak as you would to a trusted colleague and not the way you would address your manager’s boss. You can always find ways to go deeper into conversation once you have a more targeted audience.

So despite having days when I lament not being able to have split personas, I have decided to nurture one social persona which will span both my personal and professional lives. Through this approach, I am confident in my ability to build deeper trust-based relationships with people I meet through my business development role at V2 and with those outside my V2 world.