You’re invited to dinner with friends and acquaintances. You haven’t ordered drinks yet and the guest to your left starts selling you financial planning solutions. Awesome. The guest to your right is talking non-stop about his amazing vacation in Costa Rica. By the 35th photo, you want to throw him a coconut.

Think of social media as an online dinner party. It’s an opportunity to connect socially but your network can also help you get ahead professionally. The key to doing that successfully, both in real life or online, is in applying the right dosage. If you never discuss your business, people don’t know about it and can’t help you. Talk about it too much, and you become a bore.

If you want to use your social media profile to grow your business without losing friends, here’s what you should do.

PROFILE PHOTO:

Your profile photo SHOULD NOT be the logo of your business. It should be a nice, friendly photo of you, the human. Professionally shot, if possible, but make sure it doesn’t look too stiff/fake. It’s social media, not a law firm’s website.

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If you have a horse, put the horse in it or add some equestrian element (you at a horse show, in riding clothes, etc). You can also do that in the cover image on Facebook.

If you absolutely want to plug your company in your profile picture, take the photo in an environment that shows what you do and what you want to project.

Do not write any text on your profile image.

ACCOUNT NAME:

Your personal account name should be your name, not “BYT_Eventing” or “DSP Dressage”. You may think a corporate entity looks more professional but humans connect to humans more than brands.

If your business is mainly built around you as a person (professional riders, for instance) and the name of the company is generic, add your name in your business page: ‘Green Valley Farm – Suzie Smith’. Often, people know the person more than the business name so by adding it, it helps with notoriety.

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FEED:

For the love of everything that is holy, don’t be on sales mode all the time. If over 80% of the content is plugs of your business, photos of products shipping, testimonials from clients, you’re doing it wrong. People won’t tell you (they’ve probably muted you by now) but you’re annoying.

Political posts? Anti-vaxxer rants? I would avoid controversial topics but if you cannot help it, tread carefully. You don’t want to become a robot but at the same time, you don’t want to impact your business negatively.

PRIVACY:

NOTHING IS PRIVATE ON THE INTERNET. Everything you post online can become a screenshot and shared. If you post nasty comments under someone’s photo or are being ‘sarcastic’ when in fact, you’re being an a**hole, that reflects poorly on your business or employer. You can express opinions but be smart, don’t be a jerk.

Should you friend clients on Facebook? Yes. As stated above, your personal account is never really personal. You are representing your business at all times online and offline. So why not take advantage of the opportunity to connect with clients and stay top of mind?

Yes, but I post photos of my kids and private things that I don’t want clients to see. Well, maybe you need a WhatsApp group chat or a private Facebook group for grandma and Uncle Joe.

Should I post photos of my cat, vacations, etc., or does it have to be just work stuff? Of course. Your personal account is still a personal account.

With business pages having less organic reach, it would be foolish to not take advantage of a personal account to grow your business. The key is doing it well.