Social vs Professional – are they mutually exclusive?

One of the most popular discussions coming from our 23 things programme is whether people want to keep their professional and personal lives separate and what the point of blogs are. Ultimately this is entirely a personal decision but it has reminded me of work my friend Katie and others have been doing. Katie’s done a couple of great blog posts on research into how social use of social networks may affect credibility. The overwhelming consensus appears to be that by tweeting personal things as well as professional things your credibility will be increased rather than decreased. This could be because you feel more connected with someone if you know more about them personally and their for you trust them more. After all you would trust a friend over a person in the street.


Credibility: qualities that someone has that make people believe or trust them
definition from via Katie Piatt

I would say that what I tweet/blog/share depends very much on my mood or where I am rather than any big calculation. I don’t tend to prepare posts in advance and think about them, although maybe sometimes I should! I guess the main issue for me is who will see it? On twitter a lot of my “followers” are fellow librarians so I would post there something entirely library related which my friends would yawn at. On facebook my friends are just that, people I know and have met personally so I would share personal events and things there which people who don’t know me personally probably wouldn’t care about.

My social media
My page

In my blogging though I tended not to be too personal until I did the most personal blog I could have done with my jaw surgery blog . I thought it would be a blog firstly for my close friends and family(especially as I couldn’t talk or have the energy to contact people) and then when complete for other jaw surgery patients to refer to. In fact it took on a whole new lease of life with friends  I hadn’t seen for years and strangers sending me messages to wish me well. I thought it was basically me moaning about how ill I felt but people sent me messages saying how positive it was and how it inspired them in their own lives. Even though I haven’t posted to it for over a month it is still getting 20 -50 visitors a day and interestingly in 5 months it has had over 10,000 visitors. Melon The Librarian has been around for over 18 months and just hit 1000 visitors. My lesson from this experience was that what you think you are writing may well not be what people think they are reading!

There is inevitably a crossover of information between all my social media platforms. This is no different to how if you gathered together everybody who knows me in all walks of life then nobody would have the same view or opinion of me but probably share a general impression. I’m not rigid in where I write or post and do believe that people perceive you better if you are a real person. This is probably a reflection of my personality as I am sociable and open. So amongst some worthy item on work there is a good chance there will be a random post which would mean nothing to anybody but my best friends!



6 thoughts on “Social vs Professional – are they mutually exclusive?”

  1. Nice post Helen, I agree with you – and of course it’s less effort to be generally open than try and maintain multiple personalities and profiles and selectively use them. I too am often surprised by who comments on my blog and which posts get the most traffic. It’s never EVER the people you thought of, or the posts you thought it would be! So who are we to judge where we post things.

  2. I’ve always thought the opposite about credibility so might have to change the way I do things at work a bit in the light of that research! It’s interesting how people respond and can find their own meaning and way to relate to things that you might think they wouldn’t be able to relate to

    1. Mind you in your line of work there maybe other issues about being too open that don’t exist so much with academics! Of course blogging about poems about peas is a whole new level of credibility 🙂

  3. Hey – interesting post. There was something about academia and split personalities I saw last week:

    I post both professionally and personally on the same twitter account – I wasn’t sure if this would work but I don’t seem to have ‘lost’ any followers. I do have to think carefully before posting though – drunken train journey home tweets a big no no. I think the students like being able to see another side of you.

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