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Where do you draw the line between 'social media' you & the real 'you

Posted in Social Media @ Jun 7th 2013 - By Judy Gillespie
Drawing a line in the sand

How much of the 'real' you do you show on social media for your veterinary practice?

We all know that having a presence on social media is an important part of connecting with the current and future clients of your veterinary practice but have you considered where to draw the line between veterinary business ‘you’ and the real ‘you’?  Or do you believe that there’s really no line to be drawn?

A recent blog post from Smart Company: Do we now need a professional Facebook persona? was the reason for this recent reflection.  When I started Vetanswers I spent quite a bit of time thinking of where I was comfortable drawing the line.  Especially as I knew Vetanswers and Judy Gillespie were going to be closely linked.  As a business of one there was no way I was going to be able to hide behind a ‘business’ and that wasn’t what I wanted anyway.  My aim has always been to create an online community and the very nature of the word ‘community’ infers personal involvement.  However I have a family and so I also had to consider what information and images I was comfortable sharing with whom and where.

 So here are my thought processes behind where I ‘draw the line’.

Facebook

You obviously have to have a personal profile to set up a Business Page on Facebook but that’s pretty much where it all stops for me.  I post frequently (up to 6 times a day) on the Vetanswers Facebook Page and rarely (less than once a week) on my personal profile and I never post the same information.  I have a few (very few) ‘friends’ on my personal page that I have met through Vetanswers but my view of who I accept as a ‘friend’ is based on “Do I want them to see the home ‘Me’ or is this a business relationship?”  The waters do get a little muddy though as I’m also the administrator of a couple of Facebook Groups at my daughter’s school and so I sometimes receive ‘Friend Requests’ from mums at the school as well.  Again my thought process tends to be “Is it likely I’ll see this person once my daughter leaves the school? Do I want to see updates on this person’s life?”  If the answer is “No” to both questions I decline the ‘Friend Request’.  Is this mean?  I’m not sure, all I know is that I want to be comfortable posting whatever I choose on my Personal  Page.

This is also why my Vetanswers Facebook Page has a logo as the avatar rather than me.

Twitter

Twitter is a little different.  From the beginning I made some conscious choices:

1.       To only have one Twitter account

2.       To use my name in the account – judygi

3.       To use an image of me as the avatar

4.       To have a mix of personal and business tweets

Why? Well Twitter is a very different platform to Facebook and I find it allows for more personal conversations – although I realise that sounds strange when you only have 140 characters to use!  I felt maintaining two separate Twitter accounts (business & personal) would be confusing and it was the perfect environment to add in more of ‘me’ to the Vetanswers brand.  So yes, this means if you follow me on Twitter you will see some strange conversations that have nothing to do with the veterinary industry – especially after 6pm on a Friday evening – but I’m comfortable with that. However I don’t ever forget that the account has a dual purpose and so I never tweet language or information that I feel would harm the Vetanswers brand.  I do on occasion mention family members and also include images – but not often.  As my Tweets are also displayed on the Vetanswers website, I also admit to always (mostly!) posting a more relevant tweet when I’ve finished any personal conversations – especially if it involves a discussion on the merits of a sauvignon blanc over a cab sav!

LinkedIn

Business... business....business.  That’s it really.  It’s just not the platform for anything other than business.

YouTube

The Vetanswers YouTube Channel (although somewhat ignored of late!) is definitely just for business.  I have a number of categories set up within the Channel but there’s nothing personal uploaded there.

Google+

This one’s a tricky one. Similar to Facebook I also have a personal page as well as a Vetanswers Page but as it’s an environment I find confusing I spend very little time there and only post Vetanswers information.  This is however one environment that is well suited to separating the personal from the business as you can set up very clearly delineated ‘circles’ that allow you to choose which ‘circle’ gets to see which information you post.

Pinterest

Similar to Twitter, my Pinterest account is a mix of personal and business – even down to my account name (judygvetanswers) although I use my image for the avatar.  I have a number of ‘Boards’ set up that anyone can follow and they really are a mix of business and personal.  For example I have 11 Boards including: Gorgeous Animals & their Stuff; Products I Love; My Images; Social Media; Home Stuff; Veterinary Stuff; and Makes me laugh!  I could also set up a ‘Private Board’ on Pinterest if I did want to keep some images private but I haven’t felt the need to so far.

I general I don’t post any personal images on this platform so there’s nothing there that anyone, anywhere isn’t welcome to check out.  

Instagram

Shhh.. this one’s a secret!  I originally thought that my Instagram account would be similar to Twitter & Pinterest  - a mix of business and personal – and so in the beginning I had the security option of ‘Photos are Private’ set to ‘Off’ which mean that anyone could follow my account & see images I posted.  After using it for a week or two I decided to change the Privacy Setting to ‘On’ which now means I have control over who sees my uploaded images and similar to a personal Facebook Profile, people now need to send a ‘Friend Request’ to see my images.  I do post personal images – some of my family, some of flowers, just silly stuff really that has nothing to do with the Vetanswers brand.   

So that’s where my Social Media ‘real me’ and ‘business me’ line is drawn.  Some platforms have a very clear delineation and others are a little blurry but that’s ok as I have a clear strategy and as part of the Vetanswers brand includes ‘me’ I’m comfortable with the mix of business and personal.

So what’s your strategy?  Do you have one?  

If you are personally part of your veterinary brand then you’ll need to consider sharing some of ‘you’ online.  If not that’s fine too, but you will at least need to have a clear strategy to follow when a client sends you a ‘Friend Request’ on Facebook for example. Dr Andy Roak has written a blog post for VetStreet on this topic that you may find useful: Should Vets and Clients Be Facebook Friends?

So tell me in the comments section below – how much of ‘you’ are you prepared to share online?  How clearly is your line drawn? 

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