Using Social Media Professionally

This is kind of a spin-off of the Twitter thread...

I just started a volunteer internship with a political organization, and my first project is to help put together a presentation on using social media (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.) professionally and effectively.

I'm currently sorting through a lot of academic research on the topic, but I'd love to hear about your experiences, especially if you use social media for professional or political purposes. (And even if you don't, you may have some valuable opinions on these topics, so feel free to reply!)

Particularly, I'm interested in your thoughts on:
  • maintaining a professional image while using social media
  • effectively using social media to network, plan events, etc.
  • any examples/stories about really effective uses of or really unprofessional uses of social media
If you're not comfortable posting it here, but still want to share with me, feel free to PM me.

Thanks! I hope this will be useful to y'all, too! I'll share anything interesting I learn from the academic research I'm reading, too.

Last edited by badgercurls; 04-08-2009 at 04:41 PM.
  • maintaining a professional image while using social media
  • effectively using social media to network, plan events, etc.
  • any examples/stories about really effective uses of or really unprofessional uses of social media
Originally Posted by badgercurls

The one thing I cannot figure out — but I think it's because this is all so new to everybody — is how people can have just one profile for work and personal.

I don't want my clients to see my rantings on bad days, political statements, quirky blue sense of humor, or the fact that I sometimes swear like a sailor.

To deal with this, I have separate Twitter and Facebook accounts for personal and business. I know other people out there do this, but I must admit, no one I know IRL. I think it will become more common over time, though. Or FB and Twitter will eventually have better controls over who sees what. Because right now FB's controls are somewhat limited and not that foolproof, and Twitter has none at all.

I have a friend who posts the most embarrassing things to her FB status, from a professional point of view. She knows what she's doing, and is apparently comfortable with her decision, but it just makes me cringe.
wild~hair, that's a great point. I think that's a huge problem that people haven't quite figured out yet. Having two separate profiles sounds like a good compromise - do you ever have trouble with clients trying to "friend" your personal account on Facebook or following you on your personal Twitter account?

The audience for this presentation is women who are considering running for office, and apparently some of them have really unprofessional content on their Facebook pages, so this is one of the issues that I'm hoping to figure out how to address.
There are LOTS of folks who use twitter professionally.

twitter.com/meducate
twitter.com/melherbert

These are the first two that come to mind. Both in the medical profession.
"Well I love that dirty water. Oh, Boston, you're my home!"
do you ever have trouble with clients trying to "friend" your personal account on Facebook or following you on your personal Twitter account?
Originally Posted by badgercurls
Yes, this has come up. I just don't accept their friend request if it's not for the right account. If we're not friends already on the work side, I seek them out ask them to be friends over there.

It helps that I have a cute little illustration for my profile pic on my personal account, so they don't really know for sure that it's me. It also helps me to keep the two accounts straight!

I honestly think folks get confused. For example, if we are "friends" already, FB has this annoying habit of trying to tell you about people you might know but are not yet friends with, based on certain criteria. If they already know the "work me," FB thinks they might know the "personal me." I think folks see my name pop up and just click on it, even though we are already friends.

It can be confusing, no doubt! The technology needs to evolve to address the work/life balance, and also related privacy concerns as well.

Last edited by wild~hair; 04-08-2009 at 05:01 PM.
or following you on your personal Twitter account?
Originally Posted by badgercurls
Yes, and the solution here for me is that the personal account is locked so I must approve who follows me whereas on the work one, anybody can follow me.
Thanks, wild~hair - that's really helpful!

newcurly - thanks for the links. I've been finding a lot of interesting stuff on Twitter even though I'd resisted using Twitter until now.
There is a lot of stuff out there. Your best bet is to go on slideshare.com and look for presentations on social media.

for a great example on how social media can go very very wrong professionally, check out dooce.com

One thing that recently happened was for those using tweetdeck, a person's facebook updates can now be one of your twitter streams. I think that's way too much mixing of boxes because even if you're not part of twitter, your facebook updates can easily be re-tweeted on twitter and spread to a whole new audience. IMHO that makes it difficult for folks who are on facebook only, or those who keep their facebook lives separate from their twitter lives from intermingling.

Because of this, I'm even more particular about what I have as part of my facebook stream update.
hello.world.
Thanks webjockey. I was hoping you'd chime in, because I know you use a lot of social media in your job. I'll check out slideshare - I've never heard of that before, but the site looks really interesting!

Ack - my head is hurting about the Facebook/Twitter overload issue. I still don't quite "get" Twitter, but I'll have to learn.


I have a friend who posts the most embarrassing things to her FB status, from a professional point of view. She knows what she's doing, and is apparently comfortable with her decision, but it just makes me cringe.
Originally Posted by wild~hair
It makes me cringe too. I just can't understand. And the web eats up enough of my time as is, including this site. I can't imagine doing FB or twitter, professionally or personally. Another hazard of FB is people indiscriminately tagging pictures, possibly old and embarassing, with seeming little control. All of it turns me off. But I can be kind of old school.

People keep sending me Doostang invitations but I've been ignorning them. Linked in seems like the best of the social media bunch at least to me.
"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people."

"I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then we live with that decision."
- Eleanor Roosevelt (both quotes)

(taking a break from posting starting late august 2009)

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