Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld when George’s worlds were at risk of colliding? Well if you don’t, here’s a quick refresher of the conversation that said it all:
George: You have no idea of the magnitude of this thing! If she is allowed to infiltrate this world, then George Costanza as you know him, ceases to exist! You see, right now, I have Relationship George. But there is also Independent George. That’s the George you know, the George you grew up with — Movie George, Coffee Shop George, Liar George, Bawdy George.
Jerry: I love that George.
George: Me too! And he’s dying, Jerry! If Relationship George walks through this door, he will Kill Independent George! A George, divided against itself, Cannot Stand!”
Now that your mind is refreshed and you’ve had a good chuckle, it got me thinking: can the same be said for your personal and professional lives? More specifically, should you keep these two worlds separate when it comes to social media? With all of the different forms of communication, from Facebook to Twitter, Instagram to Pinterest, it can be easy to lose track of everything you’re posting, and more importantly, who will see it.
Keeping with the Seinfeld theme, let’s say there is a Professional George who occupies the office world, and an Independent George who occupies the world of social media. If Independent George were to enter the office world, would that kill Professional George? Depending on what is posted on social media, the answer is yes.
Let’s start with photos. Is it really appropriate for Independent George to post a less flattering crazy picture from his weekend in Vegas on Facebook or Twitter? No, especially not if professional contacts will be seeing it.
A real and eye-opening example of this happened with recently when Don West’s (the defense attorney in the George Zimmerman trial) daughter posted a photo on Instagram of her and her father eating ice cream cones with a very distasteful (see what I did there?) caption. It read: “We beat stupidity celebration cones. #zimmerman #defense #dadkilledit”. This photo was posted right after a harsh cross-examination of a witness for the prosecution. It has caused an uproar in the media, with it affecting the case and hurting his reputation. Prosecutors are now saying that an inquiry is necessary to make sure that witnesses are treated with respect. All of this because of a post on social media… Professional George would not be pleased, and I’m sure Don West isn’t either.
The same goes for wall posts or tweets. For example, Professional and Independent George share a Facebook. Brand X, a major clothing company, is one of Professional George’s clients, and he happens to be friends with the CEO on Facebook. However, Independent George sees an ad for Brand Y jeans, and not even thinking, he ‘Likes’ their page on Facebook. When the CEO of Brand X sees this, they will not take this positively, and it can have an effect on his future relationship with the client.
To put all of this in perspective: You are your own brand. In keeping with the Seinfeld example, Professional George is the brand, and Independent George is the spokesperson for said brand. As with any business, if the spokesperson is constantly tweeting about unprofessional activities, it reflects poorly on the brand. While Facebook does give the option to set privacy settings and filter who sees what post, an easier option would be to keep personal and business connections completely separate.
So here’s my conclusion: if you can’t stay in the neutral zone between the two, then you should keep personal and professional lives separate on social media. I’m not saying that Independent George can’t go out and ‘enjoy’ his weekend, but he should be wary of what he posts and how it will affect Professional George.
Photo credit: flickr