Should You Separate Your Business and Personal Social Life?

Professionals in sales often ask me whether they should create separate business and personal social media accounts: They wonder whether or not their personal social media pages need to be hidden from their company, clients or prospects.

According to Social Media expert Lee Oden, “Establishing an online presence to build their personal brand amongst a community of prospective customers can help a sales person stand out and attract new business. Building such a brand can be instrumental for creating awareness, which can lower barriers and facilitate reputation, credibility and trust. It also can result in shorter sales cycles and an increase in inbound inquiries.”

Keeping separate business and personal social media profiles limits your ability to build better trust and relationships with clients and prospects.

Multiple Social Media Accounts Are A Lot Of Work

Think about the headache that involves trying to remember all of the passwords for Websites, apps and the million software packages that you currently use. Then try to remember which different social media accounts you’ve created, which privacy settings you’ve set, etc. The point I’m making is that a social media account is a lot of work: Two social media accounts is even more work.

For these reasons alone, I don’t try to separate my personal profiles from my professional ones, as it’s too much effort–I if I were to, I couldn’t begin to remember which profile I was using for what, nor how to filter it.

People Do Business With Other People, And Want To Trust Them

According to Dan Swift, LinkedIn’s Director of Financial Services, “Buyers are looking at your LinkedIn profile long before they reach out to you—57% of the typical buying decision is made before sales reps are involved. Therefore, the content on your LinkedIn profile is critical. Your profile should help educate buyers, improve your reputation, and differentiate yourself from the competition.”

By revealing your interests, hobbies and personal information on a social media site, you make it easier for those clicking through your profile to establish a personal connection with you. Business conversations can be tough and uncomfortable for any client or prospect–Lower that hurdle by sharing more about yourself with others. This will make the first conversation with that client an easier and more personable one, and will take the pressure off.

Social Media Keeps You Honest

Finally, when you maintain just one social media profile for both business and personal use, you’ll hopefully take another minute to more thoroughly consider what you post. That extra minute should help prevent the embarrassing moments that stem from displaying risky or unprofessional photos, videos or other content. In the long run, it could save you, your family, or the company you work for unnecessary problems.

And that’s a good thing.

Mark Middlebrook
About the author: 

Based in Los Angeles, CA, Mark Middlebrook is a Senior Vice President at CNB, a $36 billion subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).  He currently leads the company’s interactive marketing efforts.  Mark’s executive  career includes a number of Vice President-level roles with CNB, as well as Union Bank of California.  Follow Mr. Middlebrook on Twitter.