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This question was recently posed to me by a woman who is establishing her social media business online. We are in the same social media manager peer group, and most of the group members are sole proprietors of their businesses. Since Kristin and I co-own Eli | Rose Social Media, she was curious how I approached developing my personal brand vs. the business brand, and how I keep things separate.

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As a small business owner, it’s pretty much impossible to ever truly separate yourself from your business. Even in my case where I share ownership equally with Kristin. People who know you also know your business, and vice versa.

Also, I think it’s much easier for me to have 2 different sets of social media presences because I’m not a sole proprietor. I’d be hard-pressed to justify the need for establishing and managing 2 of everything if it was me alone to do it all. Kristin and I make excellent business partners (we affectionately refer to each other as “work wives”), and we have divvied up Eli Rose social media responsibilities between the 2 of us.

I don’t know that I’ve ever had a master plan for how I was going to approach my personal brand vs. my business brand, and admit that it’s been something I’ve figured out as I’ve gone along. For starters, both Kristin and I have our personal social media accounts in our own names, in addition to the Eli Rose Social Media-branded social media accounts. We both own a URL in our names, and we both initially purchased those URLs for reputation management reasons. I eventually chose to build out a site using my URL on the free WP.com platform, and later moved it to a self-hosted WordPress site.

Both Kristin and I list our business in our personal social media profiles.

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We each have weekly business blogging responsibilities for Eli Rose, too. We use a nifty Author Bio Box plugin on our business blog that gives all writers – including our guest posters – their own section that contains a photo, bio, and links to our individual social media accounts.

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As far as the content I post on my social media profiles…I usually just post about stuff that interests me personally on Facebook with an occasional “business” update here and there. On Twitter, I do tend to share social media and online marketing articles more often than on Facebook, but then again the average person posts to Twitter several more times in 1 day than the number of posts published to Facebook, so I bet overall the ratios are similar.

Because my intention has never been to put any type of focus on my personal brand, all my work, blog post writing, and social media posting efforts have always been focused on Eli Rose first, with “Liz Jostes” a very far off second (which is evident by the lack of blog posts on this site!). I will say, however, that when I’m contacted for speaking gigs, people tend to contact me directly and not through Eli Rose. I’m a bit unclear as to why that is, but I’d guess that it may have something to do with how others identify with people and profile pictures vs. brands and logos.

So, do I think you need a personal brand and a separate business brand? I believe the answer is “No”, but if it’s something you feel strongly about moving ahead with, I’d recommend deciding how and where you’ll draw the lines in order to make it clear what online activity represents you as an individual, and what online activity represents your business.

Do you have an online presence that’s separate from your business’ presence? If so, how do you approach it?

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