social media

Isabella Vasquez, 18, Holly Kappes, 18, and Madison Grove, 18, check their social media accounts at the Reitz Union. All are incoming freshman.

Natasha Capes will start creating her professional social media presence on LinkedIn this Fall.

But, the 20-year-old UF international studies sophomore already has private accounts, so what’s one more?

“I have a private Twitter account,” she said. “But when I create my professional account, I do not think keeping my personal account private will be a conflict of interest because they both are representative of who I am.”

And she’s not alone.

Madison Grove, an 18-year-old UF health science freshman, said creating a separate account for professional purposes is not misleading if you want to keep some boundaries between professional and personal activities on the web.

To UF social media lecturer Natalie Asorey, however, keeping personal and professional profiles separate due to the fear that a single unfortunate post may throw a career off track can be exhausting.

Asorey said students often create professional accounts, especially on Twitter, separate from their personal ones but run into difficulties when they can't always keep up with both.

“It is much easier to manage one account that reflects who you are — both professionally and personally,” she said.

So how can students merge their social channels for personal and professional benefit.

It doesn’t have to be boring. Think about how your personality shines through on your social media profile, Asorey said.

“You can be funny, relatable and professional,” she said. “Voice your opinions, join communities and connect and engage with other people. Having an internship- or job-ready profile doesn’t mean you have to be robotic or boring.” 

Angel Iverson, director of integrated partnerships at UF’s Career Connection Center, said even though students may not be actively applying for jobs, a good place to start building a professional online presence is through LinkedIn and Twitter.

There, you can showcase work such as portfolios, credentials and even nurture a network, she said.

“The Gator Nation is everywhere,” Iverson said. “You never know who may come up on the search results.”

While at UF, students engage in multiple organizations to meet and network with professionals in their fields. The best way to keep a professional connection is through these platforms, Iverson said.

But how does one start?

Pat Ford, a professional-in-residence who was previously a global chief client officer at Burson-Marsteller, an integrated communication agency, gave a list of essential steps on building a professional presence.

Ford said students should think strategically about how to position their own personal brand online and manage it carefully. Points to keep in mind include:

  • Use a professional-looking photo — this is business, not a dating site. 

  • Write a concise, but compelling narrative bio, and be sure to include relevant details that highlight your differentiated strengths. 
  • Look for ways you can set yourself apart, perhaps by posting compelling essays, following fascinating thought leaders and companies, listing awards and recognition or by seeking an extensive LinkedIn and Twitter network. 
  • Retweet and/or share LinkedIn posts that relate to your interests, which can often draw attention from potential future employers or mentors. 
  • At the end of the day, whether you want to keep separate accounts or not, it is important to always be conscious of what you post, Ford said.

“Whatever you post is available for anyone to review, and it often can be impossible to completely eliminate it once it appears on social media,” Ford said. “While people like to say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, the opposite is true in the online ecosystem.”