Maybe it’s because she is Fast Company’s social media editor and spends time on Twitter and Instagram for her job, but my cohost Christina Royster has trouble separating the personal from the professional on social media. I have a different problem, I’m confused about how much I should share about myself online. What are my boundaries? What kind of content to do people like? How can I build a personal brand without feeling gross about it?
“Outside of Fast Company, I would consider myself a content creator. There was a trend called the Buss It Challenge, and everybody was doing their little transformation video to the song “Buss It.” I was like, ‘this looks so fun and I want to jump on,’ but the first thing I immediately thought of was, ‘this is not good for my brand. I can’t post this on Instagram. People will be looking at me crazy.'” Royster says.
What’s the right decision in situations like those? Is it possible to have a social media presence that’s on brand for your work life and your personal life? We decided we needed to get some advice from an expert.
This week, we talked to Jamal Jordan, former multimedia journalist who has worked at Vice and The New York Times and whose new photographic book, Queer Love in Color, celebrates the love and relationships of queer people of color. On his frequently hilarious and poignant twitter account @lostblackboy , which boasts over 53,000 followers, he posts about his work, his feelings, and current events.
Jordan, who has also taught journalism classes at Stanford University told us that he saw Twitter as another outlet for self-expression. “Journalism is very much a straight all-white-boys club. I was very self-conscious [at work]. So I would say, ‘Well, I’m just being this person in the office, but I actually have a space where I can work very publicly and just talk about it.’ It felt very empowering to have a space where it’s like, ‘you guys are going to ignore my idea, but the 10,000 people on Twitter who want to listen to it will listen to it.'” he says.
Luckily, like us, he closest friends and family aren’t as online. “It feels like as I close my phone, no one cares about the super-viral tweet I have going, which makes it feel very healthy to me. That helps you keep it in perspective.” he says.
For more of Jordan’s advice on how to toe the personal/professional line on social media and stay true to yourself, listen to the episode.