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Do You Need Two Social Media Profiles? Probably not….

Got into an interesting discussion on a Facebook group last week about this advice from REALTOR magazine suggesting that agents create both personal and professional accounts on social media sites:

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NAR seems to be suggesting the separation as a safety measure, so that you’re not sharing intimate, personal information with people that you only know through business, who might not be as close to you as your personal “friends.”

Let’s be clear what NAR is saying, though.  They’re suggesting that you create two social media PROFILES on each site.  That is, you’d have one Facebook account under, say, a gmail email address where you’d friend all the people in your personal life.  And then you’d have another Facebook account under your business email address where you’d friend work colleagues, clients, etc.  You also, of course, might create a Facebook business page to manage your marketing, but that’s a separate thing entirely.  The idea was that you have two distinct PROFILES.

What’s interesting is that the reaction from people in the group was uniformly negative. Now, this is a pretty selective group of agents who are (I think) particularly well-informed and sophisticated about social media, so they’re not your average real estate agent audience.  But they said this was a bad idea for a couple of reasons:

  1. You need to be authentic on social media, which you can’t do if separate out your personal life from your work life.
  2. It’s a lot of work and who has the time?
  3. You can accomplish the same thing by rigorously organizing friends into lists and managing your posts accordingly.
  4. You shouldn’t be over-sharing to the point that you need a “personal” profile anyway.

Indeed, I was in the distinct minority in the discussion, defending the practice of having two profiles.  My basic argument is that a lot people justifiably want or need some separation from their personal and professional lives. Maybe they don’t want work friends seeing pics of their kids. Maybe they’re LGBTQ and private about it with people who are not. Maybe they’re a tea party patriot in New York City, or feeling the Bern in Alabama, and want to do lots and lots of political talk without alienating their work friends. Maybe they’re religious, and consider their devotion something they share only with like-minded close friends. Whatever, there are lots of reasons why you might not want to mix business with personal.  That doesn’t make you inauthentic, it just means that you think there are parts of your life that you want to keep private from your work colleagues.

Moreover, I do think a lot of agents “overshare” on Facebook in ways that probably don’t help them professionally. Yes, agents who want to use social media for business generation have to be careful about what they post. And, yes, they should learn how to use “lists” when they just can’t help posting something that’s not appropriate for general display.  But given what I see on my feed every day, particularly in a presidential election year, I’m not so sure that these messages are getting through.

So, on balance, I don’t think it’s a bad thing if agents want to create a more private, personal social media profile apart from the profile they use their business.  And I speak from experience.  Back in 2008 or so, when I first got on Facebook, I had one profile where I started to “friend” everyone: college friends, personal friends, work colleagues, business associates, etc.  And I soon realized that was a very, very bad idea, because my college and personal friends had completely different sensibilities from the people I worked with: younger, more liberal, more urban, and, say, more prone to posting embarrassing pictures of me from my wild and crazy past.

So I created two profiles.  My “personal” one was really just for old friends and people i knew from living 15 years in Manhattan, where I’d be more likely to post edgy humor, express my political and cultural beliefs, things like that, and I have about 300 friends. My “business” one was everyone I knew from my work for my company: agents, industry people, etc., where I’d post more professional business-related information and have about 2,500 friends (err, “friends” — I don’t actually KNOW a lot of those people).

And that worked for me.  I got pretty handy at switching from side to side, putting my business profile on the iPhone and iPad app but keeping myself logged into the personal side on the Safari app.  What was nice was that I do a lot of “rah rah real estate posting” on my business page, which would likely be annoying to my “personal” friends.  And I get to let my hair down a little on my personal side, which might be polarizing to people that work with me.

In eight years, I never had someone bring it up to me as an issue, or say they were offended that I hadn’t friended them on one side or the other.  They seemed to all get it.

Now, what’s interesting is that I find myself closing out the “personal” profile.  Why? Because as I get older, the two sides are converging. Now that I have kids, most of my new friends are parents from school who live in my community and also know me through work, so they’re tending to end up on my “professional” account. And on top of that, all those college and city friends are now parents living in the suburbs, too, so their “edginess” has been sanded down with time.  I find myself spending a LOT more time on my “business” profile than my “personal” one.

So for me, the dual profiles served a purpose when I created them, but are not really necessary anymore.  But I wouldn’t judge someone who wanted to create that separation for themselves, especially if they have a good reason for bifurcating their personal and professional lives.

Of course, all that said, it would be great if Facebook actually created intuitive and workable tools that would help all of us manage our friends lists…..

 

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