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Personal vs. Professional Social Media Contacts? Why it’s Wise to Categorize

Mark Zuckerberg’s wish seems to have come true – these days, social media is an integral part of our private and work lives, connecting us to the world in images, sound bites, clips and one-liner statements. We look to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc… for our family members, friends, long-lost acquaintances, co-workers and employees. The “directness” of social media even allows us to tap into the unfiltered minds of opinion leaders and other celebrities.
But beware! As many of us have discovered the hard way, social media communities can quickly grow unmanageable. Before you know it, your profile pages becomes overcrowded and overly busy, mixing professional contacts with personal contacts and making it nearly impossible to distinguish what you should be sharing, with whom and over which channels.

You likely cringe – and understandably so – at the idea of your professional network catching a glimpse of you in a swimming suit on the beach or after having guzzled one too many sangrias at your best friend’s birthday bash. An unorganized, uncategorized mass of public, private, professional and personal contacts can cause major information input/output issues.

When organizing your different networks based on interest, function, relationship or otherwise, take a page from your office CRM tool. Analyze how you want to communicate with your social media “groups” and what information you want each to receive from you (not to mention what kind of information you wish to receive from them).

Here are some suggestions to categorizing your social media world:

It’s nothing personal; it’s just business

Are there certain platforms that you’re comfortable dedicating to a particular contact “group”? Some social networks naturally lend themselves to a certain usage. This may help you in your early stages of contact categorization.

LinkedIn for business:
The largest professional social network out there, LinkedIn enables you to research companies and follow what they’re doing, identify potential recruiters, stay connected to former colleagues, network with new contacts in your field, find new customers and more. In short, LinkedIn is designed to expand your professional connections.

Facebook and Google+ for social interactions:
Express your personal opinions, post private and family photos, exchange ideas. Facebook and Google+ are good places to keep track of your more personal exchanges with family, friends and acquaintances while establishing limits on who receives your information.

Filters and Lists

Google + was the first social network to introduce the concept of contact “circles,” giving users control over what they share with which of their connections. Fast-forward to today and virtually all social networking sites give you the ability to segment your audience by category and filter your posts. Classify contacts by relationship (friends, family, professional, school, kickball club, etc…) and get a handle on who sees what.
Check out this article to find out more about how to create circles on Google+.

Find groups of people with your interests on Google+:

Admittedly, finding the right balance and organizational style takes time and patience. Managing these settings takes practice. Making use of circles, categories and filters will help you manage information overload and separate personal from professional. As a result you’ll enjoy a more intelligent and organized social experience.


About the author

Amber Skinner is the Corporate Manager of External Communications at Arkadin, coordinating public-facing communications and branding outreach at an international level. She is particularly focused on exploring how new communication channels like social media and remote virtual conferencing impact enterprise collaboration and encourage social business. Having lived and worked in North America, Asia and Europe, Amber is fascinated by unique cross-cultural modes of communication that drive business in an increasingly borderless world.

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