Blurring the Lines: Are You TOO Personal with your Community?

Posted on 09 August 2010

Being a community manager, it’s difficult to define where the “professional me” and the “personal me” begin and end.

For instance, I’ve got both a professional (this site) and a personal website.  Of course I have different personal and professional email addresses.  I’ve created three separate twitter accounts, one for my professional tweets one for my personal tweets and one to follow a Star Trek crowd.

However, I’ve NOT created a separate, professional Facebook identity.  There are quite a few people from my communities following me on Facebook and I’m hoping that doesn’t hurt me in the long run.  I use LinkedIn as well, but that’s an industry focused site and my end users probably don’t visit it much.

My community management style is pretty laid back and I don’t try to mute my personality so I don’t think anyone would be surprised by anything I post but there is a danger that anything you post can be used against you IN your community…so be careful!

As a community manager I’m used to being known.  I’m become accustomed to using my real name and haven’t hesitate to post a photo every now and again.  This, of course, can haunt you if you’re not careful.  I’ve actually had disgruntled community members show up at my place of business on more than one occasion and it’s a bit disconcerting.  I’m a decently sized guy and while I’m not bullet-proof I don’t worry for my physical safety but I do

Where is the proverbial “Professional Line?”  I don’t think it exists.  If you’ve been in this profession for any length you’re used to being “out there” and you’ve had learning experiences to help define your exposure level.

The irony of this discussion is that I’m always seeking more exposure than I have right now.  I’m always anxious to take part in the benefits of my position, which includes representing my communities at expo’s, conventions, meetups, industry events…whatever!

Do you mix your personal life with your professional life?

If not, what lengths do you go to separate the two?

Have you been visited or contacted in an inappropriate way by a community member?

How do you market yourself as a brand and not a human being?  Should it be only about the brand or do you feel that YOU and your personality MAKE the brand?

Please share and keep thinking!

-Eric


5 responses to Blurring the Lines: Are You TOO Personal with your Community?

  • As acommunity manager, I try to impress upon members to have a balance of the personal and the professional in their profiles. People often find it easier to approach someone on the basis of shared interests ahead of approaching them for reasons of work. This can be seen at any in-person networking event. People will stay and chat and get to know you more if they have something in common with you, not just work. Pity the person without any outside interests – s/he’ll find it hard to be seen as someone worth approaching.

    The same holds true for tweeps I follow – if they don’t show me a human, non-professional side to their tweets, I get very bored and dump them. The whole idea of E2.0 & Web 2.0 is conversation and human contact – that isn’t done through incessant bar charts and flow diagrams.

    I have no idea what inappropriate contact with a member would be like. If you have a good story, contact me at mjrlbr@gmail.com ; )

    I like to think my personal brand is fairly laid back. My Twitter avatar shows me in a suit with a big smile on a Vogue magazine cover, the V replaced by a D – you get the idea. If I ever have to be 100% corporate again, that’ll be the day they lay pennies on my eyes. Great post Eric.

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  • Alison says:

    Hi Eric, it’s an interesting dilemma for a Community Manager and a topic that crops up a lot! For me personally I use Twitter for industry-related content, LinkedIn for business (of course!) and Facebook for personal use. If anyone from my work or community adds me on Facebook, I might add them on a limited profile (or not at all).

    As critical as I am for Facebook’s complicated privacy settings, if you can master them, they can work in your favour. I don’t share pics of my children with my limited profile as I think you have to consider and respect your children’s online identity in the years to come. Nude pics might be cute at one point, and mortifying at another!

    All of that said I am very careful about what I post online and always weigh it up, no matter what platform. You can’t control who might re-post your content elsewhere.

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