LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat – the 24hr world of Social Media means communication is just a click away at any time of the day. With so many networks available, it’s easier than ever to connect.

When an active online presence is an essential part of running your business, however, it can be hard to switch off, maintain some boundaries and manage client expectations.

There’s an understanding that networks such as LinkedIn are used to gain new business contacts. Set up a professional profile on here, and you accept that you may get a message out of the blue from a stranger, relating to your work. That’s the whole point of a ‘business’ network.

Personal space

However, when anyone with your mobile number can also find your profile on more personal networks, it’s also possible for clients to ‘slide into your DMs’ and contact you to discuss work here too.

A friend was recently taken aback when a client used Facebook Messenger to contact her directly. While she uses the app to chat with friends, clearly the client has no issue with using this network for their business. In this instance, however, the recipient felt the unexpected message had invaded her personal space.

Many of us feel we ought to accept friend requests from colleagues and clients on our personal Facebook profile. While there will be some people who are happy sharing every part of their private life, at some point most of us have been tagged in photos we’d rather clients didn’t see!

So how do we avoid these blurred lines?

Set some boundaries

Privacy settings can give some control, but when in doubt, it’s best to keep work and play separate. It’s why we help many of our clients set up business pages and manage their professional presence on social media for them.

If you don’t want clients connecting with you on your private social networks to discuss work outside business hours, it’s also wise to set out your preferred methods of contact and hours you are available at the very start of your working relationship.

Keep it professional

If you’ve already received a request from a client, a Twitter connection or someone you met at networking on a profile that you want to keep private, what is the best way to set out those boundaries without causing offence?

Don’t just ignore a request. If they are truly interested in connecting, you can do it in other places. If you have a profile on a business network site, such as LinkedIn or Workplace, you can send a request to connect there instead, saying: “This is where I stay in touch with work associates. I look forward to working with you!”

You don’t need to explain further or make excuses for not accepting them on your personal profile. We all have a life outside the office and deserve to be able to have a bit of private space when we are off the clock. A space where no-one is judging pictures from our last night out… except maybe our parents.

If you’re struggling to find a balance between having a personal life and managing your social media content, why not give our Digital Team a call on 01738 658187