By Jasper Martens, Social And Search Marketing Manager At Simply Business

It may seem obvious to say that work-life and private-life should be kept strictly separate. But with the proliferation of Twitter, Facebook and other social media in our lives, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain different personal and professional profiles.

The question I ask is whether or not we should be trying to maintain this distinction? Why is it not okay to merge your professional and personal life online? Are your customers and colleagues really that interested in your weekend fishing trip, or is it better to keep those tweets to yourself?

Building a work-life balance online can be tough – and nowhere is this problem more acute than on Twitter, which so effectively blurs the lines between home and work interests.

But don’t panic just yet. Here are some tips to help you achieve the perfect harmony between the public and the private you:

How ‘big’ is your small business?

The way you use social media assets to build a brand image and strengthen communication depends in part on the size of your business. For example, is your business based solely around you; do you work with a partner; do you employ staff? If you are a sole trader it makes sense to merge your personality and your business into one profile. Your customers will probably see you as the business anyway so it’s important to relay that throughout the online engagement. Personality is an important factor in social media and small businesses/sole traders can utilise their personality to the business’ advantage.

What type of business do your run?

The nature of your business may also determine whether or not it is appropriate to associate your personality with your social media activities. A small business owner is often better off when he or she is personally associated with the brand as a personal approach helps to give tweets weight and credibility. It also helps to build a sense of approachability around your brand.

However, in the case of larger organisations it is usually better to detach yourself from the brand. Tweeting on behalf of a company gives the impression there is an organisation and some structure behind the business – and this can be crucial if you want to attract larger clients.
Be unique: determine your tone of voice and stick to it
If you decide to combine your personal and professional tweets, you need to define your tone of voice - and stick to it. Consistency is key. If your planned tweet doesn’t fit your tone of voice, don’t send it out.

Sharing unique content with your followers is an excellent start if you want to mix some personal tweets with your business posts. Remember that there is little point in rehashing existing blog posts or slavishly re-tweeting other people. You need to put your own stamp on your content, either by approaching topics from a new angle or simply being the first to cover new developments.

Don’t broadcast - engage

When you are a small business, every client counts. You can help to grow your business by building a highly engaged follower base. The more engaging you are on social media, the more likely you are to convert followers into customers. Show personality in your professional tweets to maximise engagement and don’t shy away from personal tweets on your account - it will give you the character your followers are after.

Be careful with syndication of your tweets

Be careful when syndicating your tweets to other areas on the web, such as your company website or your personal LinkedIn profile. If you have a Twitter feed on your company website, make sure that it only includes profiles related to the company. When you employ staff, ensure yourself that you only give prominence to the accounts of employees who tweet professionally.

If you have attached your Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile, ensure that you have selected the ‘Share only tweets that contain #in’ box. This means that only tweets containing this hashtag will be posted on your LinkedIn account. If you do tweet something more personal, leave the hashtag out to ensure it doesn’t show up on your LinkedIn profile.

Use apps to keep track of your personal and business tweets

If you do choose to separate your personal and business tweets, you will need apps to manage the two. Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are excellent tools that allow you to manage several Twitter accounts at the same time. Create lists of specific Twitter followers for business and personal purposes, and remember to switch accounts at the crucial moments.

Managing several Twitter accounts through one tool does involve a significant risk. Make sure you double-check which account you are using when sending a tweet.

Social media is increasingly important for organisations of all sizes. By building a coherent tone of voice, and managing your business and personal profiles efficiently, you can maximise the benefits associated with these exciting new technologies.


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