Professional VS. Personal

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As someone who is interested in promoting her own company as well as her client’s companies on the web, I’ve found myself wondering where to draw the line when it comes to promoting the person vs. the company. This is especially true when the client is a small business and one individual is responsible for the bulk of the business – truly the “face” of the company.

This fuzzy dividing line is blurred even more by the popularity of social networking sites like facebook, twitter, myspace and more and the creation and recreating of countless online profiles throughout the internet. Some profiles are focused on the company only, on creating business listings, classified and yellow pages ads – these are an easy solution and can be purely professional, leaving the individual and their personality strictly behind the scenes.

Social networking is an excellent tool for marketing a business as well as an individual. Many businesses have myspace pages and facebook pages with networks of “fans” opting in to learn more about the business and be kept up to date with recent developments. What an easy and ideal way to advertise! But not everyone represents themselves on social websites at all times the way they wish to represent their company – and herein lies the rub. Should you update your twitter status with a complaint about the weather? Should you admit to being worn out or tired when your profile is linked to your company website? What if a highschool friend posts some wacky pictures or references about you on your “wall” – do you delete it immediately or do you sacrifice the purely professional image of your company to have access to your personal networks?

For some reason this problem came to the forefront for me when I started creating my new Google user profile. I began adding links to all the profiles I could think of that I had spread around the web. When it came time to make the profile public, I hesitated before I clicked the button. Some of these were quite personal links that had little or nothing to do with my business. My Amazon wish list, my personal blog and my AllRecipes.com cooks profile had nothing to do with website design or search engine optimization – in fact, I added them to the profile for my own sake – to have a listing of everywhere I stayed and played in one place. I knew I wanted the “business” part of my Google profile to be made public and be found, but I would have liked to split the “links” portion up into business (made public) and personal (made private). This black and white division isn’t so clear cut on other social networks either and decisions must be made to use them or loose them in relation to promoting a website or business online.

What’s a girl to do? And how personal should On Your Mark Design and Graphics get? More importantly, how personal should I advise my CLIENTS to get when it comes to marketing their businesses online?