When it comes to your online presence, should you separate your personal and business personas? This can be looked at from two different angles. In part, it depends on whether or not you are the face of your brand and if you prefer to stay out of public view. If you do opt to be a visible figurehead for your business(es), you need to think about how to manage your personal dealings online. Once the two are intertwined, it may be impossible to ever separate them.
The single biggest area and danger zone to consider is social networking. Your Facebook account is the perfect example. According to the FB TOS, you can’t have more than one account. This can prove awkward if you have your own professional consulting business working with multiple clients but you have a bunch of personal or off color jokey stuff on your Facebook wall. To avoid this, pages were launched, but it doesn’t take any real legwork to get back to the page manager – usually you!
By using pages and allowing clients and business related contacts to fan your page instead of making them friends on your profile, you are insulated a little bit. Keep your profile more restricted, and ma
ke pages for each of your businesses. It’s not perfect, but it is an option.
The same thing holds true for Twitter. The difference is you CAN have separate Twitter accounts, so consider publicizing and promoting your business related account(s) and keeping your personal one for personal stuff and friends. Just remember which account you are logged into when you tweet to avoid any potentially embarrassing situations. If your name is your brand, you may have already built up a following. If that is the case, on Facebook, consider changing your account name to something more innocuous or not using it for personal social interaction at all.
Also watch your comments. If you have an Open ID or a Google account you use for commenting, especially under your real name or with your picture, you have to be careful where you visit and what you say. There is almost nothing you do online that is really private, so keep in mind that almost anything you post anywhere is likely visible to potential clients.
The best advice is to keep your personal life and your business life separated. Focus on building a strong brand with a favorable reputation. If you are a big company with a hundred employees, you’d care how they acted on the web if people knew they worked for you, right? Your personal life shouldn’t spill over too much into your business brand. If you’d cringe at one of your employees doing it, don’t so it yourself.