This is the first in a new series of questions from members of the Influencer Tribe.
A member of The Influencer Tribe asked me about how to get the split right between the professional and the personal online.
I think that this is a fascinating question. It taps into many related issues, like people worrying that they share too much online and other people thinking that it is somehow pretentious to care about your personal brand.
My view is that your brand should include everything, just perhaps there are certain platforms where sharing different things are more appropriate. So on Facebook say you might be able to get away with an in-joke with your friends, that on Twitter people wouldn’t understand. I don’t think that you need to worry at all about generally sharing personal things as they make you more human. I think it will make people more likely to hire you because you will come across as warm and personable.
Where you need to think carefully is whether you are getting the balance right. For example, on my YouTube channel (my personal one, separate from The Influence Expert) I have recently shared things like my family interacting with a red squirrel in a park, and footage of a beer festival that I visited. However on that channel I also post more ‘serious’ videos about topics like being a social entrepreneur or supporting charities. If only the squirrel videos were up it would be hard for people to get the professional impression of me that I want to have. If a person preferred to get to know me through video rather than through my blogs (and we have to think carefully about how different people have different ways that they like to consume information)- and I didn’t have the more professional videos up too, that might be a problem.
Ultimately I don’t think that you should ever share anything publicly online that you wouldn’t be happy to stand by in real life. Of course I don’t mean that your view shouldn’t change over time- but that generally, if you wouldn’t be happy to express an opinion or reveal something about yourself in ‘the real world’ you shouldn’t do it online. Otherwise it is very likely that people finding out information about you will be able to see it- and that might stop you getting a job or mean that you lose out on an opportunity.
I’d like to give a practical example of a person who I think balances the personal and professional online brilliantly- Graham Allcott– a productivity expert. Graham is great at positioning himself as an expert while still staying personable. I’ve met him in real life and he’s the same as he comes across online. If I search for him on YouTube I can find this– impressive, but unrelated to his current roles as a best-selling time management expert but also lots of other videos including even this. Not only does he talk about personal things on his Twitter feed, but he manages to sound like a real person on the page for his company and on his personal website (note the Villa comment!). Even in his best-selling book (much recommended by me), he comes across as extremely impressive while managing to also be fallible, human and humble. This is such a powerful brand because he manages to communicate the message- if even someone like me can be productive, then there is no reason that you can’t too!