Ask Alicia: Writers And Social Media Accounts

by Alicia Sparks on October 11, 2011

Sometimes, it *is* personal 😉


Hi Alicia,

Should I have personal and professional social media accounts, or should I lump it all together? Or, should I just have professional accounts and forget about any personal social media?



Hey Andy,

There’s no way you could have known, but your question is kind of timely. Two weekends ago, not one but two of my friends asked if I’d be offended if they stopped following me on Twitter (my Twitter is about 80% work-related and 20% personal; I tweet A LOT about writing and editing). Of course, I completely understood and told them so, but I later spent some time musing about the benefits of personal versus professional social media accounts.

What I came up with?

There are pros and cons to each, and I think how strong those pros and cons are will depend on each individual case.

Are any of your usernames the names of your website or business? If so, perhaps separate accounts would work best for you. The same might be true if your name is a big part of your brand.

Of course, you can successfully mix the professional with the personal. Look at Brian Clark of @copyblogger, Carrie Wilkerson of @barefoot_exec, and Darren Rowse of @problogger. If any of them has a separate private account (which is entirely possible), I don’t know about it. The tweets on their public accounts are consistent mixes of professional and personal information.

On the other hand, if you’re strictly a freelance writer or editor (i.e. not currently or not ever planning to market your services as anything more involved than one person taking on clients/projects as s/he pleases), then maybe single accounts are fine. While keeping a writing-related theme present might be important to you, being able to tweet to your friends (whether online or off) about weekend plans, a movie you just watched, or a cute picture of your dog also might be important.

See? It really does depend.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Facebook and Google+ make it ridiculously easy to choose who sees what. Choose one or more lists (or circles, in the case of Google+), a handful of people, or even just one person. Twitter is not as involved, but people CAN choose to put you in a list without actually following you in order to check out your tweets when they want to, without being bombarded by all the stuff they may not care about throughout the day.
  • Having two different accounts that are both accessible to the public and not dissimilar in terms of content can get confusing and frustrating for followers and friends. A business person I admire has two Facebook accounts: One with the person’s name, the other with the person’s name but as a public figure/business. This person posts duplicate posts on each account. In this person’s defense, I could easily unfriend or unsubscribe and just keep one account. In my defense, it’s not unreasonable to expect different content from different accounts. So, something to think about.
  • Spend some time thinking about the social media plan that will work best for you and your social media marketing needs and stick with it. Constantly switching things up – creating new accounts or deleting old accounts in favor of new accounts – could lose you some followers.

Thanks for writing in, Andy, and I hope this helps!

This post is part of the Ask Alicia series at Learn more, or shoot me an e-mail directly at alicia [at] writingspark [dot] com (or click here) with “Ask Alicia” in the subject line.

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