Michelle’s book and her blog article below got me thinking about our strategy with Facebook. We have been having conversations about whether to expand our Facebook presence or scale it back or completely change our approach. Facebook definitely changes the entire dynamic of the relationships and boundaries between our personal and business lives. Often very “unnatural” conversations (not necessarily a bad “unnatural” but one that could never have happened without Facebook) occur that are unexpected. For example, you post a political article which elicits comments from business colleagues, customers, your cousin and a childhood friend you last saw in third grade. All of a sudden those completely unrelated friends are having a conversation.
My intent is not to frighten anyone away from social media and Facebook but to make the point that everyone in business should really put some mental effort into developing a well thought out strategy for social media. As Michelle points out below, staying away from Facebook, ignoring it or trying too hard to keep personal and business separate could very well leave you in the cold as you continue to grow and develop your business in the future.
I’m witnessing an increase in the number of people creating “extra” accounts on Facebook to help them manage (separate) business and private personas.
This might seem like a good way to manage privacy such as protecting kiddos or allowing you to let your hair down among close friends and family while maintaining your professional decorum among business associates or even strangers who want to know you, even if you don’t know them.
Others do it not so much for privacy concerns, but to avoid sending business-y messages and links to family and “old” friends who aren’t into your business. That’s thoughtful for sure, but there are other ways to manage this.
In the FAQs, they more thoroughly explain,
If I already have a user profile, can I create a business account?
Facebook instead wants you to create a “Page” for your business presence rather than a separate personal profile. So, even if you have a company page (like mine) they would prefer that I set up a “Michelle Golden” business person page.
This is what Facebook “likes”!
They describe in the FAQ that you can manage all your Pages (and ads) that you create from your personal account. And if you don’t want people clicking into your personal life, they won’t. Facebook explains:
Please keep in mind that the fans of any of the Pages you administer will not have visibility or access to your personal account or profile. Any actions that you take as a Page administrator on your Page will show the Page’s name as the [poster] and not your personal name. To create a Page, simply click on the “Create a Page” link under the Sign Up section of www.facebook.com.
This is actually really cool because people can “like” and share your business page and posts so your content can go a lot further than just among your circle of approved “friends.” Also, with a “Page” you can see (aggregated) statistics that tell you if you are engaging well with others, or are having your post stream hidden by others! (gasp)
But let’s talk about the other reasons you might not want to divide your “friends” between two accounts in the first place.
1) MISSING OUT.
When you divide your feed, and “depersonalize” your interaction to the business peeps, you miss out on the whole purpose of using social media for business development! (more below)
2) MANAGING CONTENT RELEVANCE.
By creating “friend lists,” you can designate content you DO want to go to certain people or DON’T want to go to certain people. In other words, if you don’t want to burden “family” or “jr high friends” with your business posts, create a group for them and when you write the business post, simply set the post to exclude viewing by that group.
3) MANAGING PRIVACY.
Take advantage of Facebook’s incredibly rich privacy settings. Avoid sharing your vacation photos (or any other content or links) with your business peeps by placing photos in a special album just for lists of “family” and “close friends.”
REMEMBER, ENGAGING IS WHAT MAKES FACEBOOK VALUABLE AS A BUSINESS TOOL
Facebook is not for broadcasting! (No social media are for broadcasting.) It’s for interacting.
Bottom line is that the much of the point and purpose of using social media in business is for people to become closer. As in friends. As in learning what they have in common and stuff.
I have some Facebook friends who only “do Facebook” for business and it shows. There is no personal engagement. No relationship building. No point (at least for me). It’s dry. It’s boring. It’s a broadcast. No thanks.
Yet there are other Facebook business people that I hardly knew or totally didn’t know before friending on Facebook. Yet we got closer through Facebook. And these people actually constitute the largest percent of people that have hired me or referred business to me as a result of getting to know one another via ANY FORM of social media. More than LinkedIn and more than Twitter.
From personal experience (I haven’t conducted a formal survey, but maybe I should) I attribute this to the fact that I am fairly personal (aka “myself”) on Facebook. And they seem to be, as well. I share and they share. And we get to know each other. We mutually participate and banter. I congratulate them on their marathons, “like” their family photos and song posts, commiserate when they have a rough go, wish them well when they are ill. And I mean it. And they do the same. And it results in building our relationships.
HOW TO GET YOURSELF HIDDEN
People who only feed their Tweets, blog posts, and Foursquare without otherwise engaging others are completely missing out on the benefits of the relationship development aspect of Facebook. Typical user behavior is to “hide” the posts of these people.
There are also some people who, when others comment or congratulate, ignore the messages. Typical user behavior is to stop commenting on these people’s posts. No one likes to be ignored. Sometimes hiding the posts of these people or even unfriending them is a next step.
Again, Facebook is not for broadcasting. It’s not one way. Even brands that merely broadcast, and fail to engage, get “hidden” from user feeds.
So, instead of creating a separate business presence, first try the friend lists feature to control privacy and/or content distribution.
If that doesn’t suit your needs, create a “Page” for yourself as a professional (even if your company has its own page…you can cross link the pages). But if you go the Page route, be sure that you still engage, and still show some of your personality there. If you want relationships to develop, that is