Quite frankly, social media isn’t a tool that I’ve used much in my business. I’m still old school. I do a little Facebook, a bit of Twitter, but beyond that, all the options and how to best leverage the various platforms makes my head spin.

BUT I’m seeing a lot more Instagram these days and I have to admit that the little snippets do actually provide some great insight into the person or company that you’re following and that can be great for personal branding and establishing a connection with an audience.

Wait… “personal” branding? Aren’t we building businesses? Aren’t our memberships part of our business model? And what about those of us who aren’t a one-man/one-woman show? If we have employees or a more corporate structure, personal brand wouldn’t apply, right?

The line between personal and business is blurrier now than ever before. In fact, I’d go as far as saying all of us (and even some of our key employees) are billboards for our companies.

Seeing the people behind a company (or nonprofit, or program) will give people a perception of what it would be like to engage in business with you. Right or wrong, people will draw conclusions.

That’s because people like to do business with other people. They like to know who they are ‘shaking hands with’, even if it’s an online relationship.

So, you have two options:

  1. The first option is to create a digital firewall between business and personal. You can deny customers the opportunity to know you and build a perception of you outside the workplace. I’ve seen people who firmly say that they don’t accept friend requests from customers – and that’s OK – it’s a personal choice.
  2. The second option is to let customers and prospective customers in. Allow them to see who you are outside of the office – what makes you laugh, what inspires you, what challenges you and what things you feel are important in life.

For me, the second option was initially difficult. I always said, “I don’t do business on my personal social media accounts” so there was a natural separation.

As someone who is actually rather shy and definitely not a “show-off”, the idea of being on a stage for the whole world to see me was uncomfortable.

It wasn’t until I realized that being personal on social media wasn’t about being on a big stage where the whole world was watching, but rather making connection – person-to-person – in a more intimate way. That’s actually something I value immensely.

In fact, I recently told a friend that my BEST customers are those people that I could totally see going with me on a long walk. We’d lace up our shoes, then head out the door to walk, while talking business and life for hours.

What’s your perspective on this? Do you draw a line between personal and business? If so, what feels right for you?

Drop a comment and tell me about it.


Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.  Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.

You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.




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