should I have separate social media channels for private use and public
August 29, 2020 11:24 AM   Subscribe

I am feeling conflicted.

I have a private personal Instagram account, mainly because 7 years ago when I had left it public a guy who date raped me when I was in college found me and tried to start a conversation over DM. I blocked him and locked down my account.

However, right now I am in the process of recording an album and working on writing that is getting published. I have a book proposal in the works. Would it make sense to have a public Instagram feed just for my professional projects with no personal posts whatsoever so I can promote my work? I specifically would like to get my music out there publicly as much as possible since gigging is not going to be an option for the foreseeable future. Are there any downsides to this? I can preemptively block my rapist, but would leaving these posts public on a "professional account" leave me open to harassment?

I have managed public social media, including Instagram, for a former workplace, for a nonprofit for which I serve as Comms Director, and for my boyfriend'a small business. For some reason creating a second account for professional use makes me a bit nervous. Would it be confusing? If I set up a "professional" Instagram would it be beneficial to also have a "professional" Facebook page to cross post? Would my Instagram friends on my personal page get confused? Am I overthinking this? Is this just imposter syndrome (i.e. feeling uncomfortable with self-promotion bc I feel like I'm not talented enough - something I think all artists would understand). What are the pros and cons here? How do I distinguish a public account from a private one?

Thanks in advance.
posted by nayantara to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's very normal to have personal social media accounts when you're in some form of media with the "professional" one being just things related to that. My formal Instagram account is all highly polished and edited photos (or photos related to the shoots that I'm doing that would be of interest to people who also want to see the final results); my personal Instagram is not easily linked to me and is for sharing photos of random turtles that I take half assed shots of while hiking or "woo, I'm on a train" photos with friends. My formal Twitter is mostly representative of my day job work stuff and I have a few others for private thoughts or projects.

I can preemptively block my rapist, but would leaving these posts public on a "professional account" leave me open to harassment?

If he's dedicated to harassing you, it's trivial to set up new accounts. So it depends on how much effort he might want to put into it. In 7 years passing, he may not care to try again.

Would my Instagram friends on my personal page get confused?

You can always set up the account as "NayantaraMusic" or whatever if you want to make it clear that it's an account just for your music.

Am I overthinking this?

posted by Candleman at 12:14 PM on August 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

My understanding these days is that for Instagram it's not really "personal" vs "professional", it's about having one account for each persona/image you want to cultivate. I have several friends with 3 separate quasi-professional Instagrams, where one might be food focused, one is music focused, and one is travel focused. Or you can choose to merge them if that makes more sense. If your album and your writing share some sort of overarching theme/aesthetic then I would think you would definitely want them to use the same account, but if they're completely unrelated I might make two accounts. Even if you do make a professional account, you probably still want it to "feel personal" on instagram as writing and music are both pretty "personal" industries.

Another thing to think about is rather you want to use your real/previously established internet name, or create a new name variant/pseudonym for your professional projects. This can make a pretty clear distinction without confusing either "brand". This also might provide some small protection from people trying to search for you by the name you went by in college, although that is not guaranteed
posted by JZig at 12:19 PM on August 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have a friend who uses their feed for both pro and personal. They are a travel agent. I ended up blocking them because of all the professional posts. I think it is a function of three things. One, what is the ratio between public and private or professional versus personal. Two, how many of your personal friends are interested in your music and professional life. Three, how private are you? Do you want random fans to see your everyday life.

I would separate them, but I don't think there is a definitive answer. It is a personal answer.
posted by AugustWest at 2:45 PM on August 29, 2020

YMMV, but here's my take, as a writer with a lot of Twitter followers and a lot of backchannels.

Writing and music (well, certainly writing, but I think music too) are fields in which people like to feel that they know you personally and have personal access. It will be beneficial to you to have publicly visible "personal" social media accounts—I say "personal" in quotes because of course they will be curated, but the curation doesn't show. All of your (again, curated) promotion will be more effective in this context, where people think they're getting friend-level access. I would NOT make a specifically promotional account.

However, you will eventually want a finsta or a private Twitter. You'll know when this is necessary, I think. It might be now, it might be when you hit the point where strangers have to comment on every damn thing. I don't think there's any down side to making one early; I've had a second, locked Twitter since 2013, and I did not really need it then but I very much do now.

In other words, my advice is that when you make new accounts, go smaller, not bigger. Rather than making a new account aimed at promotion, make a new account aimed at privacy and invite only your bosom friends. You may not decide to do that right now, but the option will still be there at some future point where publicity starts to feel like a burden.
posted by babelfish at 3:55 PM on August 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

babelfish - that makes sense in theory but in practice I've been on Instagram since 2013 and if I made it public again I'd have to go back through 1000+ posts to delete anything that I don't feel comfortable having public (like photos of my boyfriend's kids, photos of my nephew, photos of my friends' kids (basically anything involving the children I know), political posts, etc). My Insta followers at the moment are only my closest friends and family. Going through 7 years of posts to delete sensitive ones just seems like it would be very... time consuming? And some of those photos I really love and don't necessarily have backups of since I've switched.phones twice since I got on Instagram. Is there a simpler way to do that? Like some sort of app or something?
posted by nayantara at 6:49 PM on August 29, 2020

A pattern I see frequently is: Keep a locked personal account. Start a public professional account. Very occasionally, when there's something on your professional account that your friends might also care about, retweet/reblog/share it on your personal account with a note about what it means on a personal level.

That way, your friends get to see your very most important professional work, but your professional contacts don't see the friends-only stuff.

There's definitely a need to be chill and normal about it. (AugustWest's comment shows what goes wrong when people aren't chill and normal about it.) Don't be spamming your friends with your professional stuff every day or every week, pick stuff that they genuinely might like, and be honest and not marketer-y about why you're sharing it. Don't think of it as a way of Driving Traffic to your professional account. Your friends don't want to be Driven anywhere, and don't want your friendship monetized. But they probably do sometimes think it's cool to hear once in a while about what you're up to.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:52 PM on August 29, 2020 [9 favorites]

I have no specific advice about the harassment risks, but I think it's completely normal for someone who uses social media for professional purposes (something which is common for musicians, writers, visual artists, etc.) to have separate professional and private accounts. I don't think it's weird or confusing at all. I don't do this, but that's because I don't use social media as part of my job. If I did, I definitely would. The assumption that one person = one account is not set in stone and definitely not the norm for everyone. Nobody is obligated to mash all their online roles into a single space with no boundaries.

I think it makes perfect sense for you to make a public Instagram account. Whether you want to make corresponding public accounts on Facebook and in other places depends on how heavily you want to crosspost stuff there. On Facebook you may need to make some kind of organisation page; I don't think you can (per the TOS) have multiple accounts as an individual.

The way I've seen other people distinguish personal and pro accounts is either to use their real name for the pro account and an internet nick for the personal one, or a company name for the pro account and their real name for the personal one. One writer uses her real name and one of her writer pseudonyms. What naming convention you pick depends on what seems the most convenient and sensible for you -- what name do you already use on the personal accounts? Do you have a band name / company name / pseudonym? Etc..
posted by confluency at 5:12 AM on August 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

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