The Personalization of Business, via Twitter

A few days ago, I came across an article about turning your Facebook profile into your resume. My emotions rarely changed from one: abhored.

Abhored because for the past few years, I mentored college students. I've seen some of the stuff that students post on their pages that didn't display the best professional thinking.

So I'd send them a quick note that they might want to untag a picture, or change the profile picture. Or to create separate profiles and limit people to certain photo albums, etc.

And then let them know that despite their desires (and mine), Facebook isn't personal. Although it should be.

My POV is that that is fine, though: there needs to be a separation of personal from professional. That's why you have LinkedIn (professional network) and Facebook (personal network) and Twitter (a smogasboard of everything at once). And it's why I have been actively editing both LinkedIn (people I know and would recommend) and Facebook (people I know IRL or well enough online that I feel safe around them - and why I have 300 people in FB limbo). Twitter is still whomever and whatever, and I follow back those in PR or those whose Tweets interest me.

That's the thing about Twitter - it is one of those platforms that's really neither business nor personal: it's both. People use Twitter for work, but they also use it to find trends, share information, be themselves. It's a new and different paradigm (ok, not a full paradigm but something pretty new and different in the media world) that blurs those lines. It's like the work day - when does it really end nowadays? When do you have your work/life balance? Since most of us like sharing information and enjoy it, is it still work? In PR, it is if it's billable, but shouldn't we be able to clock out at a certain time?

But that's an aside on the interesting aspect of Twitter: it's a new "paradigm" for the personal and professional. The line is blurred, and the tools you use for business are the same you use for personal, and the tools you used for personal are creeping into the professional. Plus each business account has a real person behind it, and the only way business accounts succeed is if there's a personality and real voice behind it.

That's the interesting thing that oneforty has tapped into: people use Twitter for personal and professional reasons, but it's more than just for fun for them. They built guides for other business users; so oneforty has transitioned into more than just a place to find free Twitter apps, but a place to find professional twitter applications, a social media/business expert, and reviews on the oneforty blog (another great outlet for those of us that have social media tools to pitch).

oneforty has taken the personal of Twitter and showcased the business side of it for its users, turning it into a social business hub to share ideas and best practices.

Is that the future of social media? Personal yet professional? The basics are pretty simple: it's made of people (just like Soylent Green). Will we see a blurring of the lines of professional and personal personas, a blurring of the life/work balance? The tools are so ubiquitous, it's likely - but then you just learn to shut down and go do some yoga.



  1. I find that people have difficulty not only with the distinction between personal and professional, but between personal and private.
    I tell clients and audiences that if it's private, it doesn't go online. It seems as though the blurring of lines will result in one of two things: people who post personal content that is warm and thoughtful or opinionated but not of any real issue with the professional OR a devil-may-care, anything goes style where all of us become the cast of the Jersey Shore.
    I don't know about you, but I am hoping for the former.

  2. First, great comments on Twitter as the blurring of personal & professional. I hadn't been able to wrap my head around it in exactly that way before so thank you for putting it out there. It makes perfect sense & I think its what makes Twitter feel so 'natural'.

    Congrats of course to @Pistachio & team! Oneforty is getting lots of well-deserved buzz.

    @StLmom thanks for bringing up the distinction between personal & private. Its one of my great pleasures to have warm personal interactions with remarkable people on twitter who I may have never met in real life. But it is sad to see when people cross the line & overshare.

  3. Thanks so much for the oneforty props! I'm finding that being involved with social media it's a huge mix of personal and professional and it's very hard to not mix the two. For the most part my Twitter stuff is work-related, but I have a lot of friends in the Boston startup community that I'm somewhat connected to professionally but hang out with on a casual basis and Tweet with all of the time. Then Facebook is just this personal/professional identity crisis that I've ultimately surrendered to. I joined as a college kid for completely personal reasons but now use it to manage a company FB page and am connected to a lot of professional contacts on there. What a confusing mess! But hey... if I was that uncomfortable with it I could just go to law school and choose a different career or something. But I love this and choose this and therefore have decided to accept that the professional/personal lines get blurred online sometimes and the best I can do is represent myself in a way that is genuine to who I am and makes me proud.

  4. I agree with the previous commenter. We folks at inmedia PR are avid users of Twitter and use our accounts to share content that is both personal and professional. Demonstrating humanity is upheld as a social media virtue and the personal ties that come from building out our own Twitter communities has led to tremendous results. For example, we use social media channels, such as Twitter, to pitch journalists on behalf of our clients. We just wrote a post on the subject this morning (

    However, in addition to understanding the difference between personal and private content, it is also important to understand the different kinds of personal content, which can be both personable and private. Being personable on Twitter is an excellent way to show others that you are friendly, open and genuinely social. You can offer a nice comment about a photo of your followers' dog for instance, or mention a restaurant that you enjoyed. However, private comments are very different and reveal the kinds of personal information or beliefs that could leave you vulnerable to attacks and breaches of security, among other things. For example, phone numbers, addresses and strong philosophical, political or religious expressions should be avoided on accounts that are also used professionally. It is important to establish within your business the differences between these types of comments and set standards for what is appropriate.

  5. I completely agree with everything that you said. I cannot stand the fact that Facebook is becoming a professional network as well. I believe as a student, I am just going to have to create a new profile and hide my personal profile like my life depended on it! Ugh... that means another account I have to remember exists and keep up with. OUT OF CONTROL! Btw, the comment about it being made of people "just like soylent green" had me laughing for the last 5 minutes at least. I had to watch that movie for my environmental science class sophomore year...

  6. Love this post, as you probably realize from our earlier conversation!

    I have always had a challenge drawing lines between "work" and "personal life." I've been to weddings of clients and built business relationships with friends I have known since college. Social media made that already fine line, indistinguishable.

    LinkedIn is easy-- total professional persona. After that I get a bit confused. I try to caution anyone who friends me on Facebook that it is a "personal page", meaning that it contains a no doubt potentially obnoxious number of pictures/videos of my 2 kids. But is that is the "right" thing to do. I would never take my kids to a client meeting, so is sharing that side of my life in front of "business" acquaintances wrong and potentially harmful to my career?
    I really like how StLmom noted the distinction between personal & private. Great advice, and a great post.

  7. Every generation has something they created that separates one generation from the next. The creation of social media has changed how the world communicates, socializes, protests, advertises, and more. As a college student, I am bombarded with social media on a daily basis. Instead of giving someone my number to call me, I just refer them to my Facebook account. Also, with Facebook on my mobile, I am checking my account constantly throughout the day. You are right though, Facebook is not personal. Nothing is personal when there are thousands of people that could potentially take what you have as personal, and proclaim it to the world.
    Two different social networks for personal and business use is a great way to separate two very different aspects of a person’s life. Having LinkedIn and Facebook seems like having the best of both worlds. Twitter, however, is a different story. The creators of Twitter have blurred the lines between using the application for business or personal reasons. I agree with you that Twitter combines tweeting about your dog to promoting that business client. By using Twitter as a micro-blogging site, you don’t really have that personal aspect of a profile, like on Facebook. I would say that makes it easier to use for both personal and business needs. The idea of personal meets professional is brilliant to me. Every piece of work has a person behind it with a personality that needs to be recognized.

  8. Laura, I couldn't agree more with you. The current presence of social media in my life is almost overwhelming. I would be embarrassed to know how much time I spend scrolling through Facebook statuses on my cell phone.

    In addition to the personal and professional components common to Twitter however, I would like to add one more element... the educational purposes now associated with this form of social media. I am currently taking a university level PR class that requires us to make weekly posts related to the PR industry. My professor in turn, who I am following, rewards points for making an relevant and worthy posts.

    So ultimately, not only do I use my Twitter account for personal and professional reasons, I am also using it to obtain a good final grade.

  9. I like the topic you brought up about the separation of our social and professional lives on social media outlets. These days, Facebook seems like it has done more harm for employees and potential employees because more and more employers look at Facebooks to determine if the job applicant will represent their company in a positive light and to see if their own personal branding will enhance the company's image. In October 2010, 75 percent of managers used social media for background research on job applicants. With the rapid growth rate of social media, this number has likely increased since then.

    Young adults still place great value on their social lives. It's no secret that the social scene in college isn't going to see tea parties and wine mixers; it will most likely contain a bar or frat party. With the high levels of internet interaction available to us, we get excited about sharing pictures and posting stories. What we often don't realize when we put ourselves out there like that, is that we are being watched. Your Facebook page could make or break a job for you. Employers have refused to hire people because of inappropriate pictures, alcohol use, profanity, and bad communication skills.

    I personally feel that social lives should be separate from your job life. We all need a special "me time" and we shouldn't be expected to have our work pants on 24/7, but that's how the world works today. It is imperative to embrace that fact if you want to be successful. Use the site to your advantage to express your creativity, display any volunteer work you've participated in, or take an educated stand on a popular topic.
    I’ve never had any personal experience with inappropriate social media content, but I’ve read plenty of articles of people that have. I have recently discovered the importance of branding and marketing yourself through social media outlets, and I realize that it is almost impossible to get a job today by simply filling out an application and looking good on paper. You have to be proactive and show employers that you look good in all areas and that you will be an all-around asset to their company.