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Social media gives customers the chance to learn more about brands and businesses, and companies the chance to share their human side with their audience.

But when does mixing your personal and professional profiles become a case of “too much information”?

Today a client who is new to social media was asking how far left of field he should go in developing Facebook posts for his Business Page.

Many social media professionals (myself included) recommend showing the personal side of your business. It can be a great way to build rapport, establish trust and differentiate yourself from your competitors.

What should be the balance between personal and professional?

In industries where customers are looking for advice or information, sharing personal insights and experiences can create a connection with your customer.

But just as the face-to-face conversations you have with your closest friends are different from those you have with your potential customers, the same boundaries apply on social media.

The personality you show on your business page should always be professional, positive and appealing to prospective clients.

Here are my 3 tips for mixing the personal with the professional:

1. Know Your Target Audience

Be very clear about your target audience. Consider their interests, likes and dislikes. Understand the problems or challenges they want to solve, or the information they want to receive from you.

Then if the content you are planning to share is interesting and of value to them – go for it!

If not, forget it.

In the example of my client, a real estate agent, if he were to post pictures of every meal he eats (as is an oft-heard complaint about social media), these would be of little value to his audience.

But a personal review of his favourite local restaurant would be of interest to people considering a move to that area. It would also work towards his social media goal of positioning himself as an authority on the area and community in which he works.

And for the food blogger or travel expert, food photos and holiday snaps are absolutely what their audience is craving.

2. Consider Your Brand

Be very clear on your business’ brand and the image and personality you wish to portray.

Then assess every post to make sure it is consistent with that brand.

Passionate political opinions, judgements about people in the public eye, rants and complaints won’t necessarily reflect favourably on your business if they are not in line or consistent with your brand.

If your aim is to have your brand seen as controversial, edgy and stirring things up, you can possibly get away with it.

But if you are aiming to build rapport, establish trust, be seen as approachable, you risk turning off at least a segment of your audience if they don’t agree with your opinions.

If you want your brand to be seen as positive and knowledgeable, then your posts need to have those same attributes.

3. Make Sure Your History is Consistent With Your Present Goals

Social media gives prospective clients a way to get a sense of your brand and the way you interact beyond the more formal nature of your company website.

Say a client recommends your services to a friend. That friend can go to your social media profiles, look back through the history and get a good sense of your business, yourself and the way you operate.

While every post is uploaded individually, at different times and for different purposes, together they give a snapshot of your business and brand.

So every time you post something online, consider its impact on your brand and how it contributes to that snapshot.

Tweet: Every time you post something online, consider its impact on your brand and how it contributes. https://ctt.ec/H1f9q+

In summary:

Personal insights and anecdotes can humanise your brand and differentiate you from your competitors. Just make sure they are in line with your brand and your social media goals.

ACTION: Go to your social media profiles, and go back and read your posts from the last 3 or 6 months, all in one go. Write down three words that you think summarise the picture they portray. Is that how you want your business to be seen by your audience?

If not, how can you change your posts to better reflect your brand?

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