The growing imperative for financial advisors to use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn presents an interesting quandary beyond the obvious compliance restraints: how do you balance your personal and professional personas online? Some items to consider:
- What is your personal brand? Is it strongly tied to you as an individual, or is it more of a professional nature based on your firm affiliation?
- How are you known to your clients? Do your client relationships extend into activities like community involvement and social activities, or is it strictly “just at the office?”
- And, just how comfortable are you sharing aspects of your personal life? Remember that even if you keep your personal online presence separate from your professional presence, everything you share online is publicly accessible to others – forever!
Here are three scenarios for dealing with the public/private balance. For many, firm regulations will shape their online presence, so be sure to check with your compliance team before engaging on any social network.
Social Scenario 1: One Persona
In this situation, you would have one presence for both your professional and personal personas on all major social networks.
- Easy to maintain
- Shows a complete picture of you
- Simultaneous updates using a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite
- Risk of “oversharing”
- May cause you to be more reticent than you normally would
Social Scenario 2: Separate Personas on Facebook and Twitter
Since LinkedIn is already a professional social network, your Facebook and Twitter accounts are where you can draw a line between personal and professional. On Facebook, consider setting up a company page for your practice within your existing account. On Twitter, you can create a second account for the “business you.”
- Helps define work/life boundaries
- Keeps work-related messages separate from personal messages
- Can be difficult to maintain (twice as much effort)
- Could cause you to be less candid in your updates
Social Scenario 3: One Network
Keeping all of your professional activity to one network, like LinkedIn, is the most secure way of maintaining a separation of personal and professional messages. However, your LinkedIn profile should tell connections something about yourself, rather than being a dry business-card-like experience.
- Easy to maintain
- No risk of revealing potentially awkward information
- May not present the “total you”
- May not be the way your clients and prospects want to interact with you on social networks
Review your privacy settings
As a best practice, you should review your privacy settings on Facebook , LinkedIn, and Twitter. Be sure that whatever social scenario works best for you is supported by the appropriate settings on each network.