I stumbled upon an article today on PR Daily that I not only found incredibly interesting, but I also had many reactions to. The notion of personal branding is fascinating, specifically because I am from a communication studies background. When I think of personal branding, I think of identity almost immediately. In many ways I think that personal branding is when I present my identity through specific mediums (whether that medium be a Tweet, a Facebook post, a blog, or my professional experience detailed on Linked In.) *Side note: I would be incredibly curious to see how other define personal branding versus identity.* This is wherein lies my question: does personal branding call for a separation of personal and professional? Am I going to hinder my professional reputation if I blur the lines of personal/professional through my use of social media? Or, are there effective ways to manage both personal/professional identities within that same computer-mediated channel?
Before continuing my exploration, I think it is imperative that I take a second to admit I have never considered these questions before. I have never given thought as to if there needs to be a separation between my personal and professional use of social media. However as I began to think about the social media I utilize the most and am most comfortable employing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest), it quickly became clear to me that I do strategically use social media for various audiences, portraying a different aspect of my identity on each. Now this is not to say I misrepresent myself on social media, but I use it cautiously when I know I may have to answer to something that I posted.
To explain: I use Facebook more conservatively because many of my Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and old, young dance students have added me to their networks. I am always considerate of both content and pictures that I post because I (1) do not want to hear my family question me about something, (2) do not want my young dance students to model my behavior unless I can be a good role model and (3) I do not want parents of my young dance students to have to question if I am a good role model for their children to be exposed to. I also air towards a more conservative use of LinkedIn. I know that my professional networks comprise most of my LinkedIn connections, and I want them to have complete confidence in my professionalism. However, my use of Twitter is not so conservative. Sometimes I retweet content that I wouldn’t want my professional network to associate with me. Granted, nothing I ever put on any social networking site is outrageous.
The beginning of the Public Relations course I am currently taking has already begun to open my eyes to my use of social networking. Specifically, how I can refine my personal brand by utilizing my social media to the best of it’s ability, thus, separation of personal and professional. Stay tuned, there will be more to come, question and discuss on my journey towards refining my public relations skills…