Sunday, March 28, 2010

6 Signs Your Personal Twitter Account is also your Professional Account

Sure, you might add the words “this is only my personal account” to your Twitter account profile. But you really can’t say it’s not your professional account too, if it actually is. The truth might be that it is your professional account, but you're including a lot of personal comments and pictures about things that have absolutely nothing to do with your association. It's okay for an account to be both, but don't say it's only personal if it isn't ...

Here are 6 signs your personal account is really your professional account too:

1. You don’t even have a professional account. Seriously, if you don’t even have an account with your identity to use for business purposes, chances are good your personal account is your business account.

2. Your association members are following you on that “personal” account, and you’re using your personal account to follow association members too. If you’re not taking any steps to completely separate your professional contacts from your personal account, it’s not just your personal account.

3. You login to that account during business hours, at your place of business, from your office computer. Chances are good your employer doesn’t allow you to have extended personal phone calls or multi-hour visits from friends during the workday, so don’t confuse social media as enabling you to be “social” with those exact same personal contacts during the day if that isn’t clearly translating to your profession. Unless you genuinely believe it’s okay to spend hours a day interacting with personal contacts, then why would you even login to sites filled with your personal friends during the workday? If the answer is because that’s where your professional contacts are too, then it’s your business account.

4. You conduct association business using your personal account. Are you being asked to speak at meetings, answer association-related questions, and comment on or respond to work-related issues using your personal account? If yes, it’s your professional account. If these same people would not call you on your home phone number on weekends, or show up in your living room with those same requests, then don’t think they’re “personal” connections when they’re actually “professional” connections.

5. Your association attorney has already told you that what you do on that personal site can create liability for the association. If you're already aware and on notice that you absolutely cannot shield your association from liability for your statements just by using the words “this is my own personal account” then chances are good that it’s a business related account too.

6. You use your personal account to identify yourself when you are at meetings funded by association dollars. What Twitter name are you putting on your conference badge, in your presentations, on your handouts, on your business cards – if it’s your personal account, and not a separate business identity/account – then why do you think you can call that account personal?

I am absolutely not pretending that any of my "personal" accounts aren’t loaded with members and member interaction. Absolutely everyone in my life – professional and personal – are combined in both my Facebook and Twitter accounts. And yes, I have a separate page on Facebook for my Association and there is a branded Twitter account for my Association that I use. But my "personal" accounts are routinely used for association business too - by both me AND my association members/other professional contacts.

If you say you do have them completely separated, and your account is “strictly personal”, where’s the evidence that’s true? See the six bullets above.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I understand why you posted these 6 signs. In the social media guidelines written by NAR, there is a statement about separating personal from business with a disclaimer that I find kind of silly. I talk with people everyday that are fuzzy about social media best practices. There is a lot of fear about sharing too much, which tends to equate to nothing of interest or impact ever being shared.

If I knew nothing about integrating personal and business, your 6 signs would scare me. But they don't because I have embraced the integration of who I am in and out of the "workplace." Because the lines of a "workplace" are fuzzy, too.

I frequently forward my dedicated work phone line to my cell phone. I haven't had a dedicated home phone line in 6 years. My home computers have been set up for work purposes for more than 10 years. I am always me. I am always my profession. That's not for everyone, and I'm lucky to be employed by a company that allows me to flourish wherever I am.

I am responding to this work-related blog post from a home computer, because I was moved by what you said and wanted to write about it right now.

I really liked your post that has impact on my profession. Even though you wrote it on a blog with a disclaimer at the bottom that says "this is a personal blog and these are my personal opinions." ;^)