How to Manage Your Face in the Social Space

Public relations students and young professionals have long been engaged in social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. We’ve grown to understand the value of connecting with companies and professionals on LinkedIn, and we’re often early adopters on location-based sites like Foursquare and SCVNGR.

While we use social media for professional networking and engagement, it’s very much a part of our personal lives. With the mix of business and pleasure unavoidable, how do you manage your face in the social space?

I’ve heard many professionals lecture students on the fact that there’s no such thing as keeping the two separate. I agree to an extent and recognize that a balance is necessary. Ialso  believe it’s possible to keep part of one’s social “face” professional while the other part personal. For students and young professionals looking for a job, it’s all about who you let into your network.

When you engage on social media sites, do not link your accounts so that one update reaches all outlets. Since high school, many students have used Facebook as a personal networking tool: keep it that way. It’s not appropriate or necessary to “friend” a boss from an internship on Facebook. However, it is appropriate and probably essential to connect with them on LinkedIn. Knowing the functions of each outlet will help make this distinction easier.

For me, Twitter has been the most challenging. I want to maintain my face as a PR professional, but also have fun with friends that have become fellow tweeps.  The result: I keep tweets professional, but don’t stray from personal, fun tweets as long as they’re appropriate.

How challenging has this been for you? Leave your thoughts below!

About the Author
Stephanie Takach is a junior at Drexel University majoring in communication with a minor in marketing. She is also president of Drexel’s PRSSA chapter and an aspiring PR professional. Feel free to contact Stephanie on Twitter.

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13 comments on “How to Manage Your Face in the Social Space

  1. I enjoyed your blog! I think you make a very important point that it is critical to understand the purpose of different networks. While balancing professional and personal can be a bit of a challenge at times, I think it is good to let your professional contacts see your personality on these sites. Ultimately, you get hired for who you are and your personality has a major impact on that. Certainly, some things are too personal, but if you don’t want a potential employer to see it you have to stop and think…do you really want anyone to see it?

    Amanda Coppock, student editor
    Platform Online Magazine

    • Hi Amanda–

      Thanks for your comment! I absolutely agree that you should let professionals and even potential employers in on your personality through these sites. There are ways to appropriately share your personal interests with professional networks in the social space.

      I will say while it may seem to be common sense not share things that are too personal with anyone, let alone employers, I’ll often see students and young professionals testing that line and forgetting the secondary audience that their information is accessible too.

      Thanks again!
      -Stephanie

  2. I agree with Amanda. While there are some obvious no-no’s on social media for young PR people – there are definite advantages to being authentic and developing not only an online presence, but an online personality as well. I think there is definitely a shift away from the traditional approaches to getting hired and employers are growing increasingly interested in personalities that stand out, ESPECIALLY in PR.

    Great post Andrew! Definitely something that’s constantly on my mind.

    • Hi Michael–

      Thanks for your comment! You said it perfectly when you mentioned that there are advantages to being authentic and developing an online personality. It’s exciting to be a part of that shift. My call out would be that students/young PR pros have become so comfortable with social media tools that managing their “face” or perceived personality online is typically an afterthought. I’m hoping that as employers increasing “check up” on interviewees’ social media profiles, managing one’s overall face in the social space becomes a before thought.

      Thanks again!
      -Stephanie

  3. Great post! I handle my accounts as you suggest, always try to be professional, never too negative or offensive. A good rule of thumb for all communications, never put anything in writing that you would have to apologize for if the wrong person wrote it. Get used to the fact that in PR you may manage several client accounts in addition to your own. You never want to post something accidentally that could be damaging.

    • Thanks for your comment Angela! Your last point is an especially great one as it’s common for PR pros to manage several accounts, including their personal one at the same time!

      -Stephanie

  4. I completely agree with your ‘sectioning’ of social media accounts. My LinkedIn is purely professional, all updates are geared towards my industry and career goals. I always connect with my professional colleagues there. My Facebook is completely personal, I rarely, if ever, will friend someone from work or an internship (unless I knew them outside a professional context). Twitter is a mix for me, too. I show my personality and use it to connect with people professionally.

    Being a ‘good fit’ is constantly emphasized now. I think Twitter is a vehicle to evaluate whether or not someone would be a good fit within an organization. (I.e.: If your workplace has a quirky sense of humor and a candidate shows that in some of their tweets, it makes that candidate stand out so much more than a candidate who just retweets articles).

    Obviously, I use discretion for my tweets. What might be an inside joke with friends may end up being taken the wrong way by someone in my industry (or an employer/potential employer). I think keeping Facebook personal, LinkedIn professional and Twitter a mix is the way to go.

    • Thanks for your comment Chris! I absolutely agree and I’m happy to hear that Twitter is a mix for you as well. Great point about the emphasis on being a ‘good fit.’ That fits into the other comments about maintaining an online personality that is true to yourself. As long as discretion is used in certain instances, I agree that it’s a great way to give employers insight into who we are.

      -Stephanie

  5. I agree with Chris, using Twitter as a combination of personal and professional networks is alright, so long as it’s done the right way. Twitter gives your professional network a look into your interests and hobbies (it shows that you have a life, and a fun one at that!) while maintaining professionalism.

    What I would add is the emphasis to ensure that all platforms you use are connected however you choose. For example, my personal Blog has a link only to Twitter. My Twitter has a link only to my LinkedIn profile, and vice-versa. My Facebook has links to my LinkedIn, Blog, and Twitter. So, anyone in my personal network (Facebook) can get to all of my platforms; however people on my LinkedIn can only see my Twitter, and it is incredibly hard to even find me on Facebook.

    If, for example, my personal Blog was one dedicated to PR musings, I would my Twitter to my Blog. It’s all a matter of your own judgment of what you deem “appropriate”.

    I find that this method has not been challenging me at all, and I’m in control of what my networks see!

    • Thanks for your comment Peter! Great point about the ability to be in control of how you connect your platforms. It makes sense to open your personal network to all of your platforms, the opportunities that even personal friends can extend are endless!

      I agree that it’s a matter of your own judgment of what you deem appropriate and think that gives employers insight into how you manage your face and personality.

      Thanks again!
      -Stephanie

  6. Here’s another area to consider — I launched a personal Facebook awhile ago and really haven’t engaged much. Then, due to peer pressure and the social media movement, I had to launch a company page on Facebook. Now, people are finding my personal page who are business peeps and asking to friend me when in fact they should be liking my company page!

    Frankly, it’s a mess, and I’m not sure how to differentiate the two any longer. Am trying to on occasion ask peeps to Like Soulati Media and migrate over so they can get the biz content versus the Twitter feeds, etc.

    The more this space matures, we’re going to see more mashup on all these channels, and branding declutter will become more critical.

    • Jayne–

      Thanks for your comment. You raise a great point about the difficulty of managing a company and personal FB page. If you find yourself not engaging much on the personal page, it might not be worth it to have the two. However, your best bet might be to “recommend” the company page to people that friend your perosnal site and shoot over a message that it’s your company they should follow.

      I agree that we’ll see more mashup of these channels, specifically for small businesses looking to engage and manage face in the social space.

      -Steph

  7. Great thoughts there guys. Employers today are really considering their employee personalities. It is as important as to their skills for works today involves working in a team. And having a good personality which allows you to blend in well with the team would be an asset to the company.

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