As much as we might like to believe social media is just for our personal use and pleasure, the truth it is being used just as much for business purposes—from hiring and collaborating with coworkers, to client relationship-building and professional networking. With this in mind, it is wise to ensure you are not discrediting yourself professionally by presenting an opposing image on social sites.

Take a close look at your online profiles and ask yourself this question: Is my social profile working in harmony with my professional objectives? If not, here are a few options to help you manage your online image more strategically:

  1. Create a universal social profile that’s audience appropriate.

    A universal profile that works for family and friends as well as business associates is going to require some scrutiny and polishing. If you are currently posting personal tidbits alongside business-related material, you are speaking to two very different audiences that don’t necessarily jive. You may need to delete some items, reword profile information and tone down commentary to make it conducive for both audiences. This type of profile does not lend itself to spontaneous outbursts and inappropriate posts—everything must be consciously filtered to work favorably for both audiences. 

  2. Separate your personal and professional life using two profiles.

    If you are uncomfortable sharing your personal life with your professional peers, the idea of creating two separate profiles on each social site you use may be appealing. It will require some extra work and thought so you don’t inadvertently confuse the two profiles, but it will provide a clear separation of audience and content. 

  3. Designate specific sites for professional and personal use.

    The last option involves designating specific sites for specific uses. In this scenario, all of your family and friend activity would occur on one social site (such as Facebook, Pinterest and MySpace), while all of your business-related activity would take place on another site (such as LinkedIn and Twitter). The downside to this approach is you will likely be searched for on social sites designated for personal use—which puts you right back where you started.

One last note worth mentioning. Online privacy on social sites or any other Web platform is a bit of an oxymoron. If you are anxiously looking for a way to safeguard your information, the best rule of thumb is not to post it at all!