Can You Truly Separate Business from Pleasure?

Courtesy of Life's a comic strip!

In the world of User Generated Content (UGC) on social media platforms, a common question always arises for those whose job involves blogging, facebooking or twittering.

How do we separate our personal and professional selves? More importantly, are we able to do that in the first place?

There are a few dilemmas of course.

First, blogging, youtubing and flickring for work isn't quite the same as doing it on your own time and space. You probably need to adhere to some corporate principles and guidelines. Those working in large organisations like MNCs, government agencies or GLCs would also have to follow certain policies pertaining to information security, appropriate behaviours, and language norms.

Second, updating an 'official' facebook fan page isn't the same as telling your buddies where you partied till 3 am last night. You need to be prudent and pace yourself in posting event information, photographs or product information, lest you be treated as "spam" and deleted indelibly from your fans' facebook streams.

Finally, you can't do it on your own whim and fancy. Having a job in maintaining a twitter account means that you need to respond to customer feedback and comments as quickly as you can. And often, we do know that corporate twitter accounts do end up becoming complaint channels!

While the above is true - that performing official social media duties aren't quite the same as telling the world what you did last summer - it is also inevitable that whatever you do online will affect people's perception of you.

Studies have shown that more and more employers will trawl the World Wide Web to search for information on prospective hires. The first things which pop up when you google a name are things like a person's facebook page, photographs from a image sharing application, blog posts or sometimes forum posts.

It is also difficult for one to truly divorce work from play when the Internet is 24 by 7. From experience, many of my best leads, contacts and hires do not come from official channels, but from personal networks - often at 1 am on a Friday night!

One's online persona will also influence what others think about one's organisation, as employees are inevitably corporate ambassadors whether they like it or not.

The moral of the story? Be true to yourself but be mindful that whatever you do online will have repercussions - whether good or bad - on your professional career. Let's not forget that anything on the web is immortal and written in indelible digital ink.

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