Social Media: Personal VS. Professional
As a social media specialist for UCommunicate, there have been many things I’ve learned this semester about distinguishing my social media presence between my personal and professional accounts. The key component is understanding which type of content is appropriate for which account. I am by no means an expert on social media and I have definitely made mistakes in the past or forgotten to do a #SocialSunday some weeks. But at the end of the day, I try to learn from my experience and pass on my advice for managing multiple social media accounts. For a personal account, you have the freedom of using your own discretion of what you deem appropriate. With a professional account, you should stick to a few important guidelines.
● Topics that are very political or controversial in nature should be avoided in posts. Failing to do so only garners the wrong kind of attention to your account.
● Typos communicate laziness or unprofessionalism, so read everything carefully before putting it out there.
● Interacting with your followers is crucial for professional accounts — it builds a genuine connection that establishes your credibility.
● Checking in with a group of people or social media team before publishing that tweet or FB post can save you from having to delete something, so always try to consult at least one other person.
Another thing to be aware of is that what you choose to interact with can also be seen by your followers. Within communication theory, these tools that allow you to see what other people are interacting with online are called social plugins.
One time I was quickly scrolling through Twitter and failed to realize I was on the UComm account. Later that day, our director brought up a concern from a UComm alumni who followed our Twitter account and had seen a post on their feed that “Liked by UCommunicate.” They instantly screenshotted it and brought it up to our director. The post was not inappropriate or vulgar in any way, but just a random funny Twitter post that they did not feel was on brand with our organization. I completely agreed and admitted this was my mistake.
This social plugin was a disadvantage in that it exposed a sloppy mistake on our part, where UComm was associated with something it should not have been associated with. However, this could have been a pro if other people saw UCommunicate liking or sharing things that we as a student group can fully endorse and that others can fully support. With social plugins publicly sharing our every move online at lightning speed happens before we even think about it, so there are definitely both positive and negative consequences for these kinds of features. I hope these notes have motivated you to be more mindful content creators the next time you log into your social media.