SXSW Interactive: Keeping it Real Online with Personal/Personnel Boundaries

A compilation of tweets from #SXKeepItReal panel at South By Southwest Interactive. Panelists Amy Sample Ward, Debra Askanase, Vanessa Rhinesmith and Jess Main discussed challenges of negotiating the line between personal involvement and personnel involvement when managing social media communities.


  1. This was the subject of the panel: what is the line between merging the personal with the professional community as a manager? 
  2. Jess Main offered the example of a nonprofit social media manager who connected to followers personally on Twitter, through the organizational account, and shared very personal details of her life. The organization's followers connected to that account, and more so to the person. The danger was that the brand message was muddled. There is an inherent danger of community loyalty to a person rather than to the organization or brand.
  3. The flip side: Debra Askanase shared the story of an organization that is prohibited from expressing opinions online, only the support of the organization's mission, which is to promote a dialogue process. The organization is not allowed to put its humanity into its social media accounts and, as a result, the social media spaces are not gaining traction. 
  4. An audience member mentioned that, as an utility company, the company cannot publicly discuss customer service issues on Twitter. Vanessa Rhinesmith offered the advice of showing the company's "humanity" by tweeting that it just resolved an account or spoke with a customer. 
  5. There were a lot of customer service issues, including how to use it for customer service, and how to respond when the company is attacked online. 
  6. Several audience members wondered about how the small, one-person organization should handle social media when the social media manager is out, or when that person leaves. Vanessa Rhinesmith spoke about the importance of knowledge-sharing within the organization.