In some recent discussions, the topic of individualism and employer identity in the social media realm has been a focal point. In other words we have questions if a person can have a social media presence in which he or she is not speaking for his or her employer, or, at a lower level, his or her comments do not reflect on the employer.
The idea of “personal brand,” is something that I take issue with. In my opinion, saying you have a personal brand is syntactic sugar for saying you have an identity. I made this comment on Twitter:
"I'm not a brand. I'm a person."
(Don’t worry about the hash tag, it’s not important.)
In further discussions we’ve touched on whether one can truly separate his orher personal life from a career. In my opinion, absolutely. My approach to social media separates the various platforms and caters to a specific audience on each. Here’s a couple and how I use them.
Facebook: Personal interaction with family and friends. I don’t post very serious content here, it’s more a playground where my laid-back personality can thrive.
Twitter: I use this mainly for professional contacts with some personal connections and interactions. I must admit I’ve slacked off in the past year or so, and as such, Twitter has lost a significant amount of value to me.
Flickr: This is where I post photos for my photography hobby. I also stay in touch–or sometimes it seems more like stalking–other photographers that interest me.
YouTube: I rarely, if ever, contribute, but I do use this for gear reviews and general knowledge building.
LinkedIn: Purely used a collection of professional contacts for career-oriented networking.
Foursquare: I haven’t really ever gotten into this. While I understand the idea, it seems rather creepy to know where someone is at all times and then to be alerted when your friends/acquaintances are nearby.
As you can see, I keep each medium completely separate. I don’t believe that tying your status message to populate the same message on every social media outlet is a good idea, nor do I feel it provides value to your followers. Again, this is purely my opinion.
What I’m getting at is you are an idividual. Who you work for is only a small component of your identity, and it is completely possible to separate your personal life from your professional life.
One technique I’m going to try out is having a separate account for my work-focused identity. On Twitter, I will have an account@jcarouth for my personal identity and@JeffAtTAMU for my Texas A&M;University-related tweets. I’m going to be tweetingabout what I do at Texas A&M; and hopefully contributing to the Aggie community, even if it’s a small contribution.