Personal Accounts, Work Accounts – What To Do?

Sometimes, I get these types of questions:

“I’m learning about social media tools, and a patron saw I was online and asked me a question … but I wasn’t at work! What should I do?”

“I was at work, and a friend saw I was online in Facebook and started asking me about the party last night. What should I do?”

    Here’s my take. I’d love for you to add to the discussion!

    First, for the patron/after-hours question. There are a few different ways to deal with this:

    • Answer the question. Really, this isn’t much different than getting stopped in the store and asked a question (yep – I think I have an “I’m a librarian! Ask me” sticker stuck to my forehead – don’t you?).
    • Alternatively, simply say “I’m off-duty. Email me the question, and I’ll answer it tomorrow.”

    How about the friend-contacting-you-at-work thing? For starters, I’d say chatting with a friend while at work is perfectly fine (as long as you’re getting your work done). You’re learning the tool with someone you trust. That’s a great way to gain new skills.

    What if that staff member is spending too much time in Facebook? Think about your work phone for a sec. In most jobs, it’s fine to get an occasional call from a friend. But if you’re spending 5 hours a day on the phone with that friend, then it’s a problem. And it’s not a problem with the phone – it’s a behavioral issue that the employer needs to deal with. Same thing with Facebook. Deal with the problem (spending too much time talking to friends while at work) – not the symptom (phone/Facebook).

    While I’m on the topic, a related question that I’m also asked is this: “Should I set up separate work and personal accounts in social networks, or set up one for everything?”

    I’m not convinced the question is completely warranted anymore. Some social networks have made this issue pretty easy to figure out without worrying too much about personal/work-related stuff. For example, Facebook has two types of accounts – personal profiles nad organizational Pages. If you set up an organizational library Page, and you set up a personal profile that’s you, the two don’t really cross over.

    There is one kinda tricky part to Facebook Pages. To set up a Facebook Page, you use your personal profile. That organizational Page is connected to, or owned by, whoever originally sets up the Page. This is important to think through! Do you create a “library david” profile, then create the Page (which sorta goes against Facebook’s policy – one profile per person)? Or do you use your real personal profile to set up the page? I know more than one librarian who has gotten another job, moved out of state … and still technically “owns” the Facebook Page from the old job. That can get weird fast!

    There’s also one slightly tricky part with Twitter, too. My library has a library Twitter account. And I have my personal Twitter account. Easy enough. I also do a lot of “listening” via Twitter searches for my library. So, when someone asks a question or says something about the library – even if they don’t use the proper @topekalibrary to do it – I see that comment. I usually reply to them using my @davidleeking account. What do you think – is that ok, or should I use the @topekalibrary account? Not sure.

    S0 – what do you do? Do you find it easy or hard to separate your work life from your personal life online? Let me know – and share what you do!

    photo by anomalily