Turning it On and Off: Knowing Social Media Boundaries

Jeanie Davey
January 10, 2018

I’ll never forget the time I deactivated my Facebook in high school. It was junior year, and I was stressed. Needing a break from social media, I took a hiatus from Facebook. It was a pleasant vacation, and sure enough I was back a few months later to share statuses, tag photos, and comment on friends’ posts.

Now, I cannot escape Facebook even if I wanted to. Why? Because it’s my job.

“It must be so fun working in social media every day!”

This is a phrase I hear a lot when I tell people about what I do for a living.


Sure, I check my phone throughout the day as I’m browsing through my computer: Instagram notifications for a personal photo I just uploaded pop up while I’m on Facebook scheduling a post for a client. Then, I’m getting mentioned in a thread on Twitter. It’s a game of back and forth between the consistency of social channels but for different accounts—my personal account being one of them.

What’s it like to balance “real” life with social media when I’m using it for myself and being organized, authentic, and steadfast for my clients? Here are my top five tips to know your boundaries.

Be smart and careful.

When you’re yourself on social media, you have your own voice and content—just like the clients you work for have theirs. Know the difference, and be very conscious of when you’re in your work mode and your personal mode. This doesn’t just mean simply making sure you’re posting content as the client instead of yourself (been there, done that—oops) but also making sure that you’re being strategic with content. It’s easy to be biased when coming up with voice, content, scheduling, etc., but really getting to know your client, goals, audience, and more is where the challenges and opportunities arise.

When you’re working, you’re working.

Working in social media: It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? At other jobs I’ve held in the past, we’ve been told to be “off social media” while at work. Now, it’s what I do all day. I remember getting nervous my first few days thinking my new bosses would see if I was on Instagram. But there has to be a trust system that when you’re working, you’re working on your clients’ social media. Sure, I’ll see a personal notification here and there. But when it comes to work, it’s not always about me (sigh). Moving on!

You are a thought leader. Embrace it!

The amazing thing about working in social media is learning about what’s happening to each social platform thanks to a beautiful thing called Google Alerts and other great news outlets. When new features are introduced on platforms, it’s great to use them for ourselves, but also, if appropriate, for our clients. There’s a reason why clients invest in consultants—for their knowledge and expertise. In this case, we are the social media thought leaders, so it would be a waste not to share what we learn about our own industry on a regular basis. Use your everyday practices and knowledge for good!

Appreciate the real world.

Sometimes, the best moments to me are the ones without any social media. When I’m walking down the street and I see something beautiful, my instinct is often to capture it on my phone and share with friends. Well, it’s the moments that aren’t caught on camera that mean more to me: conversations, positive experiences, alone time, and just taking in breathtaking scenes. Do I always need to be on my phone looking at photos, statuses, and tweets? Absolutely not. I’m training myself to only use social when absolutely necessary and to fill my spare time with other passions for the new year.

But don’t be afraid of your own brand.

Another question I’m asked when I tell people I work in the digital world is, “Doesn’t it make you hate being on social media?” The answer to that question is no. I’ve learned that being online is being in a community. People have met their spouses, held conversations with celebrities, and have received numerous opportunities through social media. To give it up personally would be a huge mistake. I’ve learned how to improve my voice, tone, content, scheduling, and engagement on my own platforms through the work I’ve done at my job.

Hate to break it to you, but social media isn’t going anywhere. So, if it’s going to stay, then we might as well make a solid effort to keep its place in our lives balanced. Being smart, having a good work ethic, embracing your knowledge, appreciating the world around you, and knowing the different between personal and professional are some of the key ingredients to maintaining your social media boundaries.