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Being Personal and Professional on Twitter

   May 12th, 2011

At the NHLA conference last week, I was lucky enough to attend a talk on using Twitter by Twitter for Dummies author Leslie Poston (a.k.a. @leslie).

The talk was great, and the part I found most interesting were her guidelines about what to say, what not too say, and how to draw a line between being personal and professional online. This included my favorite advice:

Tweet on Twitter about Tweeting

I think toeing this line is easy on the library's Twitter account/blog/flickr/et. al. - the topics there are always library business, but in a friendly and engaging way. My goal is to be personable, not personal. The trickier area is with personal accounts, which are read by both personal friends and professional colleagues.

In my own head, I drew a distinct line between what I post here (on SwissArmyLibrarian.net) and what I post on my @herzogbr Twitter account. The blog is professional (well, mostly-professional), and the Twitter account is personal - hence choosing @herzogbr as my username. I don't know if anyone else noticed it, but it's the rule I try to follow.

But @leslie's talk got me thinking, and so did a recent blog post by @LibrarianE13 on this very topic. Which also reminded me that Jessamyn West solved the problem by dividing and conquering - she has a personal @jessamyn Twitter account, and a separate @librariandotnet for librarian.net library-related things.

Since doing what Jessamyn does is often a sound strategy, last week I created a new Twitter account just for Swiss Army Librarian stuff: @SwissArmyLib (drat that @SwissArmyLibrarian was too long). I'm using Twitterfeed to automatically tweet new blog posts, so if you'd like to follow* my posts via Twitter, now you can. I'm not sure if I'll use that account for anything else, but if I do it'll be totally library-related.

Having a separate account for personal stuff and for professional stuff theoretically should eliminate cross-over confusion, but things easily get mixed and mashed-up online. I am a bit leery of maintaining two accounts, because it seems like twice the effort. Which is another point @leslie made: with multiple accounts, it'll quickly become obvious whether you enjoy personal tweeting or professional tweeting, because the one you enjoy less will get less attention and quickly feel like a chore. I'm curious to see what happens with mine.


*I also recently added a follow-by-email feature, which is part of Google's Feedburner.

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4 Responses to “Being Personal and Professional on Twitter”

  1. Erin Says:

    Great post! I started following @leslie after reading your tweets from the conference. And thank you for the shout out on your blog and comment on my blog! Do let us know how it goes with managing two accounts. I agree, things become all mashed up online and maintaining two accounts could get crazy and also in favoring one over the other.
    I started out being 100% professional with my accnt but as I went along, I also read things about showing your human side as well – personable but not too personal like you said – helps to keep it real I think. At least that’s my opinion 🙂

  2. Blurring the boundaries – Digitalist Says:

    […] I read a blog post by Brian Herzog, the Swiss Army Librarian, about Being personal and professional on Twitter. It got me thinking about how I often blur the lines on Twitter and whether I should try to keep it […]

  3. Reading round-up: May – Digitalist Says:

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