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Personal Or Business Social Media Accounts: Which Is Best for You?

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when you start using social media and participating in social networking is to choose your username.

It might seem like a simple question, but the username you decide on will be closely linked to your branding, how people perceive you, and your brand’s future worth.

Your final decision will depend on the answers you give to the following questions:

  • Do you blog for fun or profit?
  • Is your blog a hobby or a business?
  • Are you building a personal brand or a business brand?

I’m sure you’re wondering which is best for your business.

The right answer may not be what you think

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and there are benefits and disadvantages to both personal and business branding within the social media space.

I chose to register my primary social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter) under my personal name.

I wanted to establish myself personally in my industry and niche, and position myself as the owner of a portfolio of online businesses.  I didn’t want to tie my name to one business alone. My reputation is of the utmost importance to me—it’s my trust currency, and I want to leverage each of my business actions as much as possible.

What should you do?

I’ve launched three businesses using my personal brand. However, I’ve recently separated my womeninbusiness.com.au brand from my personal brand. One of the reasons I did this was so I could present extra value to potential advertisers by offering a more targeted social media audience. I was also conscious of my (eventual) exit plan.

My answer to the personal vs. business social media accounts question was to register—and maintain—both. I built my reputation on my personal account and created a new account for my blog once I had an audience that warranted the separation.

Of course, I have thousands more social media connections on my established personal brand account than I do on my business account, but like I said, I’m fond of leveraging my actions.

Next week, I’ll tell you about the best ways I’ve found to attract an audience to new social media accounts. In the meantime, let us know how you have handled the personal vs. business brand question in your social media accounts.

About Clare Lancaster

A trained designer, Clare became an accidental marketer in 2001 when she fell into the world of SEO and has worked online ever since. When she's not on Twitter or writing for women in business, Clare reviews blogs and works with passionate online business owners to overhaul their business results.

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Comments

  1. ephman says:

    you said it “no one-size fits all”. see i work on wall street & i have a blog (all $$ goes to fight melanoma cancer). my profession has zero to do with my blog. and since my blog is highly personal to me (although i don’t blog about me all the time), i do keep everything personal. my social is my social and i intermix work and personal on there. hey my profession is personal to me. so i kind of can’t keep the two separate. plus hey we all know that us wall streeters aren’t getting a good rap these days. so if i can show people they i give all the money my blog generates from advertising to help people, i think it’s a good thing. that’s my reason i mix ‘em together.

  2. I’ve been pondering this question for a while now. I’ve been wondering if I should have signed up on social networking sites with my personal name, and whether this was the right decision or not.
    I don’t have a big enough following to merit the separation now (I don’t think), but this post has given me some additional things to think about for the near future. I think the time has come for me to make some changes.
    Thanks for this post.

  3. Saleem Yaqub says:

    Clare,

    Good points here as social media strategy needs to be thought out early. I started with setting some up social media accounts that linked to my agency. As my business interests diversified and changed, I too wanted to build and leverage my personal brand, so I switched the social accounts over to my name and have been working on them since.

    I look forward to your next post about attracting an audience and will check out your website.

    Saleem.

  4. dotCOMreport says:

    This is a really important decision and one that stomps a lot of people. Sometimes, it is possible to successfully combine both, but not all the time, especially if one is like @ephman whose blog has nothing to do with his business life. In that case, I guess a social media account for each would be best.

    Great post. Looking forward to the next part.

  5. Branding can be done on many platforms, but I just tell my clients to just brand their company name not themselves if they can..its for the best..

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  6. Nurul Azis says:

    I agree with this. Certain niche might need certain audience to focuss on, so having it separated is a smart way. Good post. Thanks!

  7. Susan Hope says:

    Good post, I did the same as you to begin with, my clients befriended me on my personal accounts at FB and twitter but more recently, we have created a “Social Enterprise” (non profit) company which is specifically to do with training so I chose then to split and separate, plus I was also starting to get quite a few clients on my personal FB account, where pretty much I go on and on about my passion of Salsa Dancing which must have been of no interest to them whatsoever, it was time for a change and so far so good :)

    Sue Hope

  8. Tornado says:

    Yes I agree if you blog for profit then choose your blog name.

  9. I actually maintain both fairly well across all my accounts. In my niche,
    sometimes I connect with people that become friends who will connect
    on my personal pages too, however I promote separately.

    Thanks for the awesome post!
    Gabriel Johansson

  10. Hi Clare,
    As you have said, personal branding is key to establish yourself as someone that can be trusted. Then when you have that trust you can separate the two. Like you have for your blog. Helps build brand recognition, but also people still associate the 2. Like Darren with Problogger. the 2 go together.
    Pete

  11. You raise a lot of questions in my head; you wrote an excellent post, but this post is also mind provoking, and I will have to think about it a bit more; I will return soon.

  12. Ted Vieira says:

    I actually started my twitter account under my business name. I had planned to use it as a way to spread my business brand.

    However, the more I learned about social media I found that that, in my opinion, it was at it’s best when there was a personal, genuine approach.

    At that point I decided to change my user name to my personal name, rather than the business. Didn’t seem to cause too much confusion, as I’m still relatively new to twitter, and I’m glad I did it.

  13. I like the idea of having a personal and company page for the social media sites. That way you will have the chance to shine as a business professional and show further details of the niche you working in.

  14. Jeff H. says:

    Very interesting. I have never been part of the Social Media movement. Just recently looked at the possibilty of doing a Facebook account. Then I was given the personal or business option. I went for the business side of things, then decided that it just didn’t hold all the same power as personal.

    So make your personal stuff, business stuff.

    Maybe that is the best way to go about it.

  15. James Artre says:

    Great article.

    I’ve always preferred branding an image, a company, versus a person, simply because a person can die, thus negating the brand. Either way, social media still figures prominently in your overall marketing strategy.

    James

  16. If you opt for your business name in your “@” handle on Twitter, you can always put your proper name in your profile or bio. Similarly, if you use your personal name, you can still provide your title and company name in your bio (a nice option for those with multiple online businesses, as Clare explains).

    I think that at least one place in your profile should alert potential followers to the account’s main user. Twitter is such a great way to make new connections. It’s friendly to present yourself as the contact associated with the profile.

    Clients have fun using my name interchangeably with my business name, “Revision Fairy,” so I like having @RevisionFairy as my handle. I keep my avatar and color scheme consistent with the logo and design of my Web site, as well.

  17. jason ward says:

    Why not have both. I have both and I think that it works wonderfully.

  18. It’s really hard to keep the same account on facebook separate for personal and business functions. It totally sucks cause of that, wish they would do something about it.

  19. Sara Sentor says:

    I worked for an SEO and have found that for small and local businesses it is better to have a online social identity that is the same for both the personal and business. The reason is small business offer a bit more ‘customized’ and ‘personal’ attention to their customers. Having an approachable identity seems to make the business appeal more especially for local customers.

    However, for professionals and mid-sized businesses and larger corporations I would suggest keeping the two identities completely seperate.The reason is simple. When you create an online social identity, it’s personal and may not always be in lieu with your corporations vision/culture.

  20. DVDSoft says:

    Yes I agree if you blog for profit then choose your blog name.

  21. Gross loan says:

    I believe that to disclose personally identifiable information is bad, because there will always be detractors.

  22. Jack says:

    Initially, we use a our business name but we decided to put a face on it. Since, it really did not contribute to widening our network, we decided to use our business name at our personal accounts as our social media representations. Still, no positive effect for us.

  23. Wonderful advice. I had never thought about it in such perspective. I had just opened account with some name, unconscious about its importance in future. Thanks a lot.

  24. TheBloggerDiary.blogspot.com says:

    Ya in fact you know i havnt slept at many night well only because of these usernames problems. Because you know many time the username you want is not available. So i think in this situation blogger find its difficult to make their blog name a brand in that social media.

    So last option to go with another username. Which i dnt lyk.

    thanks,
    http://thebloggerdiary.blogspot.com

  25. Michelle says:

    Great post!

    I actually started my accounts on a personal basis. As I branched out and eventually launched my own business, I switched to a business account but I always tried to add a personal touch — like a photo of myself, personal stories and testimonies from time to time. My site visitors and clients tell me often that my blog and social media accounts come across as very friendly, genuine and approachable. And that’s exactly what I was going for…

    Thanks,
    Michelle

  26. I was just discussing this with my boss today. In the past I have kept both personal and business separate, but lately I feel they have drifted closer together making it difficult to separate what information I should post where. I think my conclusion is that I need to refine and filter my posts more effectively and accept the fact that the both personal and business will merge.

  27. brea homes says:

    There can definitely be useful to use either one in certain instances. And in my mind, the decision to use a personal account or a business account is pretty personal preference and branding purposes. I’ve got a couple of accounts for some social media platforms and use one personal and two business ones set up. They all have their benefits.

  28. Choosing a username was my first hurdle. I went with both, personal and business. Like Clare, I wanted to be a real human first…..

  29. Blogging should be meant for making profits only.
    more visitors more profits.

  30. Alexis says:

    It all depends of where you plan to go. People will trust a personnal account more.

  31. Personally, I think its dependent on what you want, but I think a healthy mixture of both is the absolute best. You would just have to watch your step to make sure you don’t go too much in on direction or the other.