How to Have Your Cake and Tweet it Too: A Practical Guide to Balancing Your Personal and Professional Voices on Twitter
In today’s business world, it’s important to look for unique ways to promote our clients’ brand, communicate and network to move the sales needle. There’s no shortage of ways to do this, but one of my favorite tools is Twitter. Since many of us have and use our personal Twitter handles, sometimes this blended use of social media evokes pangs of inner conflict — namely how to maintain the delicate balance between our personal and professional voices.
People sometimes ask, “Why don’t you use separate Twitter accounts?” The short answer: because I don’t have to. With a bit of practice, I’m able to extend my personal brand to enhance my professional one and vice versa.
So what is the appropriate balance between personal and professional commentary on Twitter? On one hand, you don’t want to share a personal detail that might hurt your professional standing. On the other, you don’t want to bore friends and family with a robot-like account where you only talk business. Even if you’re playing a business role on Twitter, there’s no reason you can’t be yourself and share things that express your personality. Read on for a few tips (and favorite examples) on maintaining a fun yet professional Twitter account:
1. Remember that online content is never truly private
Be mindful about what you put out in the Twitterverse. The most important thing to remember is that Twitter is a very public platform. Never tweet anything that has the potential to cost you your job or damage your reputation. Anything you discuss on Twitter becomes part of your public digital footprint; always assume anything you discuss on Twitter will be seen by your employer, colleagues, clients and anyone in your professional network.
A best practice is to post a note in your Twitter bio saying something along the lines of “My tweets are my own.” It’s a simple statement that can go a long way in establishing a reputable account for both business and personal relationships. It shows that you take complete responsibility for your digital presence and can engender respect.
2. Keep your followers engaged
Twitter’s public nature can scare professionals from discussing anything other than business, but don’t bore people to death. If you’re operating under the rule of business-only, you’re under-utilizing Twitter at best and, at worst, hurting your personal brand by preventing anyone from getting to know the real you. Use Twitter to seek out great people to connect with, discuss subjects that truly interest you and look for ways to communicate in an authentic way.
When networking, the most successful relationships are built on trust and friendship, so it’s OK to let people know a little bit more about what’s going on in your life. My Twitter account will tell you I’m an ardent feminist, work in enterprise tech PR, and love a good martini. I also like incorporating a good bitmoji or meme into my tweets.
One last @ShortsBrewing Soft Parade before I leave Detroit. My savior. Until next time, ✋🏻.
— Francesca DeAnda (@FrancescaDeAnda) March 30, 2017
Driving w/ Grandpa: “So, do you like that @shawnmendes? He’s the best.” Oh really? Tell me more.
— Francesca DeAnda (@FrancescaDeAnda) February 18, 2017
3. Respect your audience
Use Twitter to showcase your diverse interests and engage with others, and don’t tweet in a silo. In the same way that no one wants to follow someone who only posts about work, they probably don’t want to follow someone who only posts about their political views, kids or love for pizza. Mix it up and show your followers how multifaceted you are to help relationships grow. Below are a few of my favorites:
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) June 21, 2017
— Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss) November 3, 2016
4. Think personal, not private
Inject your personality into your tweets, but recognize the very fine line between sharing content that is personal and what is deemed “too much information.”
We’ve all cringed at posts that are TMI. Here’s the difference: Personal is sharing that your son took his first steps. Private is offering a play-by-play of your son’s sleep schedule while sick. Personal is sharing an image of a great dinner you had last night. Private is live tweeting a fight you are having with your partner on the way to dinner. Don’t treat Twitter like your journal; nobody wants to read that.
Being a Dad isn’t just about eating a huge bag of gummy-bears as your wife gives birth. It means being comfortable with the word hero.
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) June 18, 2017
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) June 4, 2017
While in San Diego, phone got swept up by a massive rogue wave. Found it moments later still working. Definition of good karma, friends 🌊
— Francesca DeAnda (@FrancescaDeAnda) August 1, 2016
5. Interact with others
Remember that Twitter is a social network at its core. It’s meant to share business tips, news and information, interesting opinions, and to interact with new people. Use it as such. Join in on what other people are saying. Inject a personal tone or joke into your replies, but don’t be mean. No one likes a troll. It’s these kinds of interactions that will yield lasting connections and build a follower base.
— Francesca DeAnda (@FrancescaDeAnda) March 14, 2017
— Francesca DeAnda (@FrancescaDeAnda) May 11, 2017
— Francesca DeAnda (@FrancescaDeAnda) March 2, 2017
6. Be authentic
Twitter enables and promotes authentic communication between people, so don’t use Twitter just as a promotional channel. Yes, promote your work, but don’t inundate your feed with overly promotional content about your employer or a client’s products or services. Doing so can turn off your audience and jeopardize your credibility. For all my Golden State Warriors fans, Steph Curry is great at doing his job while remaining authentic.
Finally, have fun! Twitter is about discovering and maintaining conversations, shared interests and relationships. Don’t overanalyze it and don’t suck the fun out of the process. Keep it natural, be yourself, be considerate of others and use common sense.