Or rather, this time it’s professional!
I am a product of the social media generation. I’ve had a Facebook account since I was a teen, and while reluctant at first, I’ve been tweeting up a storm since 2012. For my peers and I, social media isn’t so much a networking tool, it’s a method of conversation. It is our playground, our dating scene (sadly), our news feed. And far too often, we consider its impact on our professional image last.
There are no split personalities on social media, if you know what I mean. We post what we post, with little regard for what people see or think, across all our platforms. In fact, the only split personalities we might have is between online life and real life!
For three years I have been tweeting about my career in museums and time in school just as much as I’ve tweeted rants at MLB umpires, gratuitous travel pictures, and obscure curling stats. It’s been great! I’ve made some great friends and contacts in the museum world – and around the world – at the same time as having once-in-a-lifetime tweet-versations with Canadian Olympians. My Twitter feed is linked to my Instagram account, so there’s been more than one image of food as well…
But is that what my Twitter account should really reflect? I have currently 587 followers, probably 350+ of whom are museum professionals or students. Do they really care about the recent Grand Slam of Curling exploits of Team Mike McEwen or that I’m having Raisin Bran for breakfast?
The answer, I’ve come to accept, is probably not.
While awesome, these aren’t exactly reflecting my choice of careers…
— Ben Fast (@benfaster) August 4, 2015
— Ben Fast (@benfaster) June 25, 2015
— Ben Fast (@benfaster) May 22, 2015
— Ben Fast (@benfaster) April 7, 2015
— Ben Fast (@benfaster) February 8, 2015
Ok, I’ll stop sharing my old faves. Well…just one more
— Ben Fast (@benfaster) April 10, 2014
I recently attended the BC Museums Association conference in New Westminster, BC. Conferences are great places to make professional contacts, do some networking, and tell people to “follow me” (it sounds narcissistic, but it’s kind of fun to do!). One of the contacts I made there was Luc, a really cool guy who works in the museum field in Vancouver. We followed each other on Twitter and both participated in some museum Twitter chats, I also tweeted about the Canucks and he about craft beer, and then one day — WHAM, he’s got two accounts!
Luc had had the realization I was waiting for: professional networks should be professional. I don’t know if Luc noticed or cared about my non-museum tweets, he followed me with his new account after all, but it made me think more about my image and ‘personal brand’. I sent out some emails to him and other museum colleagues asking how they found having two accounts and this afternoon I decided to make the split.
But I didn’t split it the same way Luc and some of my other friends have by making a new professional account. Instead I kept the momentum of my ‘personal brand’ going and made a new account for my personal tweets. Most of my followers are from museums anyways, and they’ve followed me because of our previous interactions, whatever those may have been. Instead of hoping they’d follow me back again, I’m now devoting my account to professional tweets only and having my sarcastic hockey talk and random image shares on my new account where I don’t really care about my follower/following ratios or tweet analytics.
So, if you find yourself wanting a daily museum fix, follow along at @benfaster just like you might already be doing. And if you have a burning passion for Canadian sports, travel chats and cat videos, you can now find the other real me at @BenFastBen. Or do both!