"Can I post my favorite recipes...AND my nonprofit articles?"

by Emily Mapes
The most common question I have received when I tell people I am passionate about social media is: “Do I need to have a personal AND professional profile?” As in, “Do I need to have a personal profile that posts recipes and a professional profile that only posts fundraising information?” This is most commonly asked of me in regards to Twitter, but can apply to almost any social media platform.
I say only one profile is necessary, and I have three reasons why below. These reasons are assuming 3 things:
That you’re following the basic guidelines and norms of each social media platform– never post pictures of your puppy on LinkedIn, and if you post nothing but professional news on your Facebook, your friends and family will more than likely hide your posts, etc.
Second, that you are following the number one rule of social media: to engage in conversation. If you’re just throwing information out onto the interwebs to have your words out there, much of this post will make no sense.
And third, that you are using common sense on social media. Never post anything that you would not want your grandmother or your boss to see.
So here are my 3 reasons to have both personal and professional information on your social media profiles.

Reason #1: It makes you more likable.

This goes back to the basic “social” rules of “social networking.” Who’s more likable: the person who seems to do nothing but work all the time, or the person who has interesting stories to tell of their travels, hobbies, family, or friends? The same applies to social media. People are more likely to engage with you on social media if you’re posting on a variety of topics.

Reason #2: It makes you seem human.

We’ve all had these moments: you’re waiting with your boss for an important meeting to begin and in the meantime you’re making small talk. Suddenly, your boss reveals that last night she went to the AC/DC tribute concert, and you see her in a completely different light from the woman you had just seconds ago imagined to be chained to her desk 24/7. Now you are less afraid to approach her about that new project you’ve been dreaming of.
The same thing applies to social media. Check out the Twitter account of Senator Cory Booker. He is a super important person with lots at risk with his public image – yet he has a Twitter account with the perfect mix of professional and personal content that makes him seem more approachable by his constituents.

Reason #3: It’s more fun!

Conferences are getting better and better at engaging hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to allow attendees to connect. Picture this: you’re at a conference, and you have just heard the keynote speaker, who is the visionary leader of your area within the nonprofit sector. She is open to speaking with attendees after her presentation, so you make your way to the stage. You have read this speaker’s book, her blog, you have Google alerts set up for their name so that you can read their articles as soon as they’re published. You really want to make a good impression on this person, and not by just asking a thoughtful question.
You get to the front, you shake hands with the visionary, and instead of some boring old question about the changes in your field, you ask, “So how is your dog doing? I saw on Twitter last week that you had to take him to the vet. I have a dog with health problems, too.”
Ta da! You just connected with this visionary leader on an entirely different level than probably anyone else who is meeting that leader for the first time today. You were able to do this because the leader had a well-rounded social media presence. If the leader had ONLY posted her articles to her Twitter and nothing else, you would have had no conversation to base your first #irl (in real life) meeting.
While you used this tactic to connect with this visionary leader, think about how many more people can connect with YOU if you have a more well-rounded social media presence.
The bottom line is that I think you are completely defeating the purpose of social media if you keep your professional and personal profiles separate. You’re curbing the possibility for real conversations with people, both in the nonprofit sector and beyond.
I’d love your opinion on this topic. Leave us a comment below!