The work/life balance

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Social Media has invaded just about every aspect of our life. From keeping up with friends and family on Facebook to tracking potential job opportunities on LinkedIn, we’re constantly tapping into our Social Networks. How do you keep work and home independent? Should you do so?

The short answer is that for nearly all of us, you should indeed keep your work Social Networks and your home interactions independent of each other. Your business colleagues don’t want to see what you had for lunch today, and your friends and family probably don’t care that you’ve connected tot he VP of Whatever at some company. That being said, having two Social Profiles on each site can lead to some challenges, but help eliminate others.

First, how do you keep everything straight in your head? With a huge swath of Social Networks to choose from, you probably have accounts on five or six at any given time – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, App.Net, etc. etc. etc. The problem isn’t that you’re on too many networks (though that may very well be true) but that you need to send different updates to different accounts on different services.

For me, I limited myself to only a few Social Networks. I’m on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Anything else MUST connect to one of those three, or I don’t actively watch or update it. This isn’t as hard as it seems, as most Social apps do indeed connect to one of those three, and therefore I can post updates to a limited number of places, and have them distributed to a full spectrum of social tools.

Then, I created and maintain two accounts for each of those services. One for my own non-corporate streaming (those are the links above) and one for anything I do for the company I work for. This way, I can tweet or post whatever I want to on the personal sites, without worrying that it’ll show up on my company profile. Granted, you still need to not post anything that you’d be ashamed your grandmother saw, but this method gives you a bit more latitude.

By digitally segregating your personal and work accounts, you can keep your work/life balance in balance by simply shutting off the site/client for your work account when you’re not actually at work. I tend to keep mine on, just to allow me to keep tabs on replies and DM’s, but many folks do shut that part of their online life off at the end of their business day.

Secondly, how do you deal with ownership if you choose to have combined accounts? In many cases, any account that posts on behalf of a company can be considered to be “owned” by that company. This means if you use the same accounts to share info about both work and private life, then if you should leave the company, they can keep your accounts. While this is still being run through the court systems, and there hasn’t been enough case-law to set a precedent yet, the issue is going to come to a head soon. In all likelihood, the employment contract you signed says that if the company dedicated resources to something, they own it, so it’s unlikely that the end-user will win when these things finally do make their way through the court systems in the US and elsewhere.

Because of this, keeping your private life segregated from your work life on Social Networks is a very good idea. This way, even if you do leave your employer and have to give up your company-focused accounts, you still have your contact lists and timelines from your own accounts to take with you.

Splitting your Social Media life between work and “other” is never an easy thing, but it’s vital to do so if you intend to leverage Social Media for work purposes. Doing so will let you define a better balance between your work life and social life, and will help to ensure that your tweets, posts, and blogs remain truly your own, no matter what.

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