Social Media for Professional vs. Personal Use: There’s A Difference

[UPDATE] Amanda Jensen, author of this blog post, landed her first professional position at a Fortune 100 company. Scroll down to the end of the article to find out where.

Confessions of a millennial intern who thought she was social media savvy. What she learned was that using social for business was completely different!

"Social media? Yeah I can do that, I thought, I do that every day." —Amanda Jensen, SMOC Intern

What I didn’t know was that social media for business is extremely different than social media for personal use. While the broad concepts are somewhat similar, there are several differences that I never would have thought about.

Here are three major ones:


Personal Use

Hashtags are meant to designate the topic of your post. Often, I see people using them incorrectly on their personal profiles. Sometimes they include hashtags that have nothing to do with what they're talking about, and sometimes they don't use them at all.

Even though I consider myself very proficient with social media, I never understood the point of using hashtags (and I certainly didn't use them correctly) until I started my internship with SMOC.

Professional Use

Though they have little importance to people who use social media for personal reasons, hashtags are essential for small businesses on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. They can help people find your business easily, and they expand the reach of your posts.

The Bottom Line

No matter which social network you use, hashtags are important. They are a key component of social media marketing, and it's important to learn how to use them properly:

Improper (left) vs. proper (right) hashtag use.

Improper (left) vs. proper (right) hashtag use.

Editor's Tip: Not only did Amanda use the #coffee hashtag in her tweet (above right), she also tagged @Starbucks, so they'll get a notification of her mention. To learn more about hashtags and tags, refer to these guides below:


Personal Use

Everyone loves looking at your photos on social media! They make you smile, they capture moments in time and they can be more vivid and long-lasting than memories. Typically, people share photos of their vacations, the food they eat and anything else they find interesting.

If you have a personal social media profile, you've probably uploaded at least a few pictures to share with friends and family. Photographs are interesting to look at, and sometimes simply writing a post about something doesn't do it justice.

Professional Use

Posts with images can be a fun way to show your friends what you're up to, but when it comes to marketing your business, photos serve a very different purpose.

Instead of showing what you're up to and who you're with, it's better to show pictures of your products and any ads or promotions you have going on at the time.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to social media marketing strategy, there's much more to images than you think.

While the image uploading process is the same for both professional and personal use, it's probably the only thing that's the same. For a personal profile, you can pretty much upload any images you want.

For a business, that's not the case. It's important to learn what type of images to use, and what to do with them once they're uploaded.

Using images for a business (left) vs. for personal use (right).

Using images for a business (left) vs. for personal use (right).

Editor's Tip: Amanda loves photography and wrote an excellent article for our blog on how to create your own DIY stock photo library. See it below, along with other guides to using images in your social media marketing:


Personal Use

What are analytics? If you've only used social media for personal reasons to this point, you probably aren't the only one asking this question. Before starting my internship, I certainly had no idea, and I use social media every day of my life.

Analytics are a way to collect data about your website or your Facebook business page, and they really don't apply to a personal profile. Long story short, they have no personal use, and most people have never seen them.

Professional Use

Analytics are critically important to a successful social media campaign for a small business. You can use them to measure who is looking at your website, when they look at it, where they are, and what pages they click on. Facebook also has its own analytics program called Insights that measures data for your business page.

The information you gain from this data is crucial to the future success of your business. Without it, you will have a hard time tailoring your online marketing strategy to the specific needs of your business.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to your personal profile, analytics are nonexistent and unnecessary. When you use social media for a business, however, they are crucial to success.

They can be data-heavy and difficult to comprehend. That's why it's important to learn how to interpret them properly, so you can use this data to your advantage.

Facebook Insights is difficult to understand without proper training.

Facebook Insights is difficult to understand without proper training.

Editor's Tip: Amanda's right about analytics: you need training to dig into the data and understand it, without getting overwhelmed. Here are a few guides to help you get started:

If you're a millennial and you need to learn to use social media professionally, check out our Online Social Media Certificate. It's the fast-track to a new career in digital marketing — without student loan debt.

Where Are They Now?

It's been my honor to hire outstanding college students as interns here at  During their time here, they learned much about business, writing, and social media marketing, and they've gone on to excellent careers.

Here are each of their LinkedIn profiles showing where they are now:

amanda jensen linkedin profile
cam waller linkedin profile
matt roe linkedin profile
benjamin kepner linkedin profile

Related Resource

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Learn how to make the transition from #college2career with our College Guide to Landing Your Dream Job: a webinar, infographic, and case study of how to find your best job ever using social media marketing.


Maria Peagler is the founder of Maria Peagler Digital, a serial entrepreneur, and award-winning author/publisher of nine books. She is an award-winning artist in both watercolor and quilting. She is married to her husband of 30 years, mom to two adult sons, and enjoys hiking in the north Georgia mountains.

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