Quote of the Moment
"Those who say it can't be done shouldn't interrupt the people doing it."
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“I want to send a friend request to someone I met, but I’m worried. What if my posts offend them?”
I hear some variation of that at least once a week. How does one have a private life while simultaneously integrating every aspect of their business life onto social media? Some might tell you that it can’t be done. Others might say that it can be done, but not without putting everything you post through a series of filters first. I say you can indeed have it all, the private authentic social media life and the professional social media presence. Pish-posh the critics will say, but I promise it’s possible if you really want it. How?
Have separate accounts for your personal life and your business life.
All you need for most social media is an email address and a name. I have a personal account where I share the cute photos of my kids, my political and religious rantings, and my current hair struggles. Then there is the profile for my business, and I don’t mean a business page, but a full fledge profile. I use a variation of my business name for my profile name, my logo is my profile picture, I only add business associates to my friends list, I don’t post unless it’s relevant to my business, and I use that profile to manage the various pages I oversee to ensure there isn’t the dreaded personal post on a business page fiasco. This allows me to keep my personal Facebook life separate from my business Facebook life.
Utilize privacy settings. I see this mistake time and time again.
Social media users are so worried about leaving someone out, an old colleague or college roommate, that they forget that some things need to be limited to a smaller circle of trusted acquaintances, friends, and family. Play around with the privacy settings until you find what works best for you. I’m a huge fan of limiting who can send me a friend request. By keeping it to friends of friends it ensures that we have a shared connection, that shared connection will make it easier to determine which account I should grant the individual access to. Twitter and Instagram also have a variety of privacy settings at the user's disposal.
LinkedIn is my go to for connecting with business associates. LinkedIn isn’t where you go to share your dinner, unless you’re a chef. Or your political leanings, unless you’re a politician. LinkedIn is neutral online networking territory. While it lacks the openness of Facebook, it provides a safe social platform to connect and grow your network without sacrificing your own comfort or freedom of expression.
Make who you are a part of your business.
Please know before you do this that it will at some point turn away some clients. That’s the reality of living in a world full of people from different walks of life and backgrounds. If you’re ok with that reality then embrace it. While I limit Facebook, because that is where I do the bulk of my soapboxing, I don’t shy away from sharing my views and opinions on Twitter or Instagram when the use of those platforms coincides with something I’m doing in my personal life. I know that publicly sharing a photo of a protest poster I made or retweeting a political opinion may deter a client. I also know that by showing glimpses of who I am I also gain clients too because I’m being human. Even if they don’t agree with my stance they can respect that I’m willing to be open and honest, which adds to that human element that clients and customers want to see in a business and brand.
The Bottom Line
Use social media wisely. Take advantage of the options, utilize the settings, and every now and then let a bit of who you are shine through for the world to see and appreciate.
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It’s that dreaded time of year again when well-meaning family and friends share the “Facebook Privacy Status”. I try not to laugh too hard when the message comes around because, as I mentioned the folks sharing it mean well. They truly do. The thing is most people aren’t aware of how social media works, nor are they aware of the various ways they can protect themselves online. As with anything online, once it’s out there you can’t take it back. So, the biggest way to protect yourself is to THINK before you SINK! Social media is an ocean and you are the little boat trying to navigate it. Always think about the consequences that could come with a particular post especially from a business/career standpoint.
Aside from thinking, what other ways can you really protect yourself on Facebook?
Get Acquainted with the Privacy Settings
Facebook privacy settings allow you to control a variety of things. From who can see your post to who can send you messages and friend requests. Facebook privacy settings are the first line of defense in protecting your privacy online.
Be Mindful of Your Circle
In the age of online social networking, it’s easy for our “friends” list to look more like the yellow pages and less like an actual representation of who our friends are. As hard it may be to fight the impulse to add the lady you met at the grocery store to your private page, I implore you to THINK before you SINK! While she may be a lovely lady that doesn’t mean she needs access to your Facebook page. Get to know a potential new friend through email or in person before you allow them to cross that online threshold. Because, not every friend request is from an actual friend. Haters live online too. Remember that.
Stay Up-To-Date on Facebook Changes
Facebook changes frequently. Some of these changes go unnoticed. Others crash the page and send users into a panic. The thing each change has in common is the fact that Facebook informs its users through their official channels. Monitor these official avenues of communication, because some of their changes can put your privacy at risk. It’s not Facebook’s job to protect your privacy, it’s yours.
Acknowledge and Accept that Facebook Sells Your Information
Whenever you browse a website, click the like button, or share a link that information is recorded. It’s why the ads that show on your side panel are of things you’ve looked at or liked recently. Facebook makes a lot of money through the information you freely give them. If you don’t want Facebook to have this information don’t like anything, don’t share anything, don’t do anything online! Which leads to the next point.
Delete Your Facebook Account
If you really want to protect your privacy online don’t use social media. That may sound harsh, but the reality is that there is no surefire way to protect your identity once you step into the world wide web. There are steps you can take in order to use social media wisely, but at the end of the day if it’s online it’s up for grabs.
Social media is powerful, but in the wise words of Ben Parker “with great power comes great responsibility”. Use it wisely my friends and you’ll have a -mostly- enjoyable experience.