The second issue at play is the breakdown of the line between personal and professional. Think you’re going to keep the two separate and sterile? Good luck with that. The personal is the professional and vice versa. You aren’t just a job or a title; you are a whole person, and that which makes you funny, passionate or angry is the very part that can be risky to share, but also the most powerful. Because the part of you who takes risks and has weird ideas and says funny irreverent things is what makes you real and relatable, and will make you more successful on social media than those who don’t.
Now, I’m biased. I work in media, and have both my own personal brand and a role in which I coach expert talent who are trying to stand out — for their work and their achievements, yes, but also for who they are. The people I work with are trying to score businesses and a following via their personal brands, and you can’t do that without putting some skin in the game.
It’s not enough to just be a good nutritionist or excellent fitness pro; you have to be someone memorable. You need to have something for people to connect to and with. Just as employers don’t hire resumes, audiences don’t engage in just careers, achievements or facts — they engage with the person behind it all.
So there’s the rub: Attempt to stifle or sterilize who you are on social media and risk being missed, or take a risk and stand up for what you think and believe and risk alienating, offending or simply having someone not like you. (Which is what we’re often the most worried about.)
Now I realize you may not be in the least bit interested in becoming a media personality, and are really just wondering if it’s okay to groan about your job when your boss follows you on Twitter. Fair enough. But even if you believe you just want to connect with friends or share pics of your kids, realize there is an implied consent when you post on Facebook or any other social media tool: That you’re there because you want people to see.
So while there is no hard and fast rule for what you should or should not post, there are always things to consider. There is no right or wrong; there’s what works for your brand and what doesn’t. What is hilarious for Twitter phenom Rob Delaney to post may not be such a good idea if you’re a local politician running for office.
That said, here are my guidelines.