Personal/Professional: Where is the line?

With every Tweet, Instagram and Facebook post, I find it more and more difficult to distinguish my professional life from my personal life. I have both personal and corporate accounts for most social media. I originally did this to avoid following people professionally that might post “less than professional” content (i.e., Daniel Tosh, a few yoga teachers, a couple of friends, and my then-teen-age son). I also wanted to follow some thought leaders without expressing my religious or political leanings on my corporate accounts.

But can you really separate personal from professional? Online or off? Where is the line?

At WilsonMcGuire, we encourage our employees to use social media. In fact, they generate content for our social media. We’re generally pretty careful about what we post. We try not to insult or endorse too often. But we have strong opinions on most marketing and advertising topics. And, when we have differing opinions, we collaborate on what’s appropriate to post.

But where is the line for the individual?

Last week, I sent an employee to represent us at the PGA Show. He tweeted and posted about his experiences all week – on his personal account. He would have posted more for WilsonMcGuire while he was there, but he wasn’t 100% sure it would be appropriate. Would I have wanted him to endorse all the products he liked or tweet some of the crazy things he saw on our behalf? Maybe not.

It’s a quandary.

As for our personal social media accounts: they totally affect us professionally.

Just last week, my son was interviewing for a job and they actually had him log on to his social media accounts in the meeting so they could review his posts. More and more people are losing jobs, opportunities, and being suspended for what they tweet or post on their Facebook pages. Just ask our former PGA President.

This business/personal quandary isn’t limited to social media.

Our behavior outside the office inevitably finds its way back to our bosses and coworkers. And if you truly want to advance your career, you have to conduct yourself in a pretty respectable manner – no matter where you are. So the next time you’re ready to post an outrageous comment, blow off some steam at the local bar, or give someone a piece of your mind, consider the effect that action might have on your career. You, my friend, may have just found the line.