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Five Rules for Your Personal & Professional Profiles
By: Sarah Jane Dunaway
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When it comes to social media there seems to be a reoccurring question from brands and brand managers — how do you hide information about yourself, while maintaining your professional identity online? Perhaps your specific job entails social media or maybe you’re simply a blogger managing your own social media and another company’s, too. You may be worried about how to keep your personal and professional lives separated.

At some point, there will be crossover. Maybe you’re personally tweeting at your company to say — “love the new logo.” Or maybe your Foursquare account bumps to your personal Twitter and you’re checking into a giant conference as your company’s brand manager or social media manager.

Rule #1: Don’t be stupid and don’t be inappropriate.
Sure we’ve all had tacky Myspace accounts or posted pictures from college that entail a bar, a cute bartender, and a bunch of shots. If you’re looking for a job or you represent a company, it’s time to clean up your act. Take down the photos from college — at least the inappropriate ones. Also, stop posting anything inappropriate, period.

Rule #2: Better to be honest than to hide.
To piggyback on what I just wrote, you may think, “I can keep photos of me in my thong bikini on Facebook so long as I manage a separate account for work.” Guess what, you really shouldn’t — if you hide it, someone will find it!

Rule #3: Use real words.
Unless you’re seriously hindered by the 140-character limit of Twitter, don’t use slang or abbreviated words like “sup” or “cuz.” You’re hired to manage your company’s social media and/or to represent your company’s brand. Unless your brand is someone super hip and cool and targeting 16-year-olds, be professional and write professionally.

Rule #4: The downside to TMI.
This is especially important for bloggers and social media managers — whether you represent yourself or your company. There is such a thing as too much information. I understand that baby blogs are super popular right now, but trust me, no one wants to see your C-section on Flickr or hear about morning sickness or which nipple cream you prefer — especially if you previously wrote about recipes or weddings before the baby. Unfortunately, if you’re all over social media, both personally and professionally, something too personal will have serious impact on your professional career.

Rule #5: Look professional.
No one expects your personal Twitter account to include only professional material. It’s okay to post photos of your new puppy after it’s destroyed your slipper. It’s perfectly acceptable to overuse Instagram filters for your personal photos. However, when it comes to your profile photo, look professional. That doesn’t mean a suit and tie, but it does mean a quality photo that isn’t blurry, over or under-exposed, and isn’t chopping off the faces of all your friends. Remember my point about crossover? It’ll serve you well to use a nice-looking, clean photo for your Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and/or Flickr profile picture.

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About the Author

Sarah Jane Dunaway is a brand strategist and design consultant, and the writer and creator behind the blog Clean & Proper. A former member of the paper and printing industry, Sarah Jane specializes in helping businesses of all sizes streamline marketing communications by creating compelling brand identity systems and corporate identity packages. Find her online here

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