Recently, while reading Travis Harvey’s recent post, Personal branding: Personal Vs. Professional accounts, I realized how often I’d seen people struggle through this question of whether or not to combine or separate their personal and professional selves online. I also realized how little I see among the streams of tweets and articles and blogs on personal branding about personal branding beyond the job or job search. Most information out there is about how to personally brand yourself within a company, within your company or for your job search.
- But what if you just want to work on your personal brand to have it there when you need it?
- What if you’re just trying to be more visible as a person of specific interests and talents?
What is My Personal Brand, Again?
As the infographic in my post How’s This Personal Branding Thing Work, Anyways? shows, your personal brand is all about you – who you are, how you are perceived by others and what you want to achieve. The next steps, talking about creating your brand, show how to go about pulling together your online presence. Whether or not you blog, your online presence is going to be the easiest way other people can access who you are and what you are about.
So here’s the conundrum: When you’re working on your own personal branding, how much “you” do you keep in your account built to showcase your personal brand?
Keep Things Separate or Combine?
Here’s my example: I have one Twitter account (two, if you count my education-related account, but that’s a little different) where I connect with friends and people I know as well as post all the stuff that interests me and speaks to the personal brand I want to showcase. Most of my interests are represented in my posts, so the majority of my tweets are about social media, branding, personal finance, etc. But every now and again there are the personal shout-outs and the odd posts about what’s going on in my local area. Now, I also have a lot of personal interests that aren’t as relevant to many of my followers – say, my obsessive love of the Olympics (starting July 27th!) or my love of HBO shows (Game of Thrones, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire…no matter what season, I’m probably watching something religiously on HBO). Do I tweet about all these other interests in the same account I post my more professional passions?
Keeping your personal and professional accounts separate on Facebook is relatively easy. Create a Page for your personal brand and BAM!, you’re all set. Personal brand-related posts go on the Page, all the truly personal stuff (pictures, status updates, etc) go in your personal FB account. But on Twitter, it’s a lot less fun managing multiple accounts. For one thing, switching between Twitter accounts can be a pain and the site currently doesn’t let you sign in as more than one account at the same time (side note: if someone wants to correct me on this, I’ll be ecstatic to learn that I’m wrong). Tweetdeck and Hootsuite make it easier to manage multiple accounts all at once, but what if you just don’t want to be bothered?
Ultimately, It’s Up to You
In another former post of mine, Why You Can Break Personal Branding Rules, I stated that I felt it was ok to break the “rule” about keeping professional/personal interests separate. I think both make up who you are. But stating this and living it are two different things. I think everyone has to find where they’re comfortable. This is especially important for people who aren’t doing personal branding as a part of a company. If you’re working on your personal brand because you want it to be there when you need it, you have more leeway than folks trying to make the professional “personal and engaging” (<–are we all sick of that word yet?).
Here’s what I suggest:
- Test it. Try combining your personal branding efforts with all your personal interest posts and see where it takes you. If you find you really want to keep things separate, don’t feel bad about it. Let’s all agree that the answer to “to combine-or-not-combine” lies with the individual.
- Review and revise as needed. You’re allowed to change your mind.
- Find what works for YOU. In the end, you have to be happy with what you’re putting out there. It should reflect YOU because that’s the point of personal branding. If you’re hiding half of yourself in an attempt to make other people happy, you’re probably leaving out all the interesting bits that make you who you are.
What About You?
Do you think it’s better to combine personal branding-related posts and personal-interest accounts and posts or no?
What do you do when faced with this personal branding question?
Do you know anyone else addressing this question? If so, post a link to what they have to say below!
Image Credit: KROMKRATHOG, Freedigitalphotos.net