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Is it possible to maintain separate personal and professional social media presences?

3 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week we asked, Would you rather integrate your personal and professional social media profiles or keep them separate? The results:

  • I like keeping them separate: 85.76%
  • I’d like to have one profile for everything: 11.65%
  • I don’t think it matters: 2.59%

It’s clear from the results that the vast majority of us would prefer to keep our personal and professional social media profiles separate. The real question though is whether that is possible today. With the omnipresent social Web and the ability to post a status update from anywhere at any time, unless you constantly have your personal and professional “self-filter” on, you’re likely to blur the lines at some point. Don’t you think?

In an earlier column, on whether our social actions affect brand equity and value, we discussed the example of the polar bear hunting, airline customer service associate. In this instance, we had an individual blogging (personally) about a goal she set for herself and how she achieved it (in 2006) and wrote about it (in 2008). Four years later (March of this year), a petition shows up, collects more than 6,000 signatures, and the airline ends up with a negative PR issue on its hands. Crazy.

Isn’t it mind-numbing to think that something that occurred six years ago and hit the Web four years ago affected a company this year? And we think we’ll be able to keep our social profiles separate? How I ask? By using Facebook’s ever-changing privacy settings? With a nickname Twitter handle? I guess that’s a start, but somehow I doubt that will help much. Sure, we can be extremely cautious with whom we connect with on Facebook or LinkedIn. But we’ve all faced the situation of a friend request or connection invitation that you want to deny to “keep your profiles separate” but didn’t because of one reason or another. And then as soon as you cross that line once, it becomes an even more slippery slope from there.

Sure we may “like” to keep our social media profiles separate, but to me it is inevitable that there will be no personal or professional boundaries for any of us.

What do you think?

This poll analysis was written by SmartBlogs contributor Jeremy Victor. He is the president of business-to-business content-marketing agency Make Good Media and editor-in-chief of For more of his writing, visit and follow him on Twitter and Google+.