First, do you need to separate? Mark Traverson, senior account manager for The Pollack PR Marketing Group, says it's not really a case of separating church and state. "There needs to be some overlap to connect a personality with your brand," he says. "Nobody wants to read anything that is too mechanical. It's okay to post a little fluff. Go ahead and chat about a contest you have going on in your office or post pictures from 'bring your pet to work day.' Sure we all want our businesses to be seen as thought leaders ... but it is just as important to be seen as human beings."
While it's fine to inject a little personality into your business tweets, make sure that's OK with your company, and that you don't cross the line into topics that are best left for your personal account.
Know what's verboten. Some topics should be avoided to prevent your employer from getting upset with you when you're tweeting about your professional life or on behalf of the company. "Unless it is directly relevant to your business do not discuss religion or politics. It only stands to alienate members of your community and at worst to upset them," says Chris Maddern, CEO and co-founder of AppLaunch.
Other topics to avoid:
Keep your accounts straight. It's too easy to accidentally post from the wrong account if you're logged into Twitter and share a website or link without double-checking which account you're posting from. Katie Laird, who manages social media for a $80 million company as well as her personal Twitter account, says you should err on the side of caution against accidental posts. "I use TweetDeck to manage company accounts and HootSuite to manage personal accounts, so there's no chance of making a mistake," she says. "After having accidentally posted a personal Tweet from a business account before, I make it virtually impossible to ever do so again."
Take the time to make sure which account you're logged into, or of where you click to send a message. Also, since your employer might not approve of you Tweeting from your personal account during office hours, you might just have your company's account set up on your work computer, and your personal one on your home laptop or tablet. That way, you don't risk accidental posts.
Make a mix. If your employer doesn't mind you sharing a few personal comments in your Twitter stream, aim for a mix of business news, shared links, community questions, and personal comments.
Maria Stephens, PR brand manager at Emcien Corporation, says the best examples of having a personal and professional Twitter are science and technology journalists. "Their feeds are usually 25 to 30 percent articles and headlines, and the rest are jokes related to the subject matter they cover."
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.