Tips for using Facebook both personally and professionally
Last week, Facebook announced membership had hit 500 million users. In other words, most everyone using the Internet is on Facebook (or at least it sure seems that way).
The tricky issue is that where Facebook was once primarily used to connect with family and friends (IRL — In Real Life — friends, that is), it has since become an online meeting spot for friends, strangers, businesses and more. Many users wonder who to friend request? And perhaps the more delicate question is whose friend request do you accept? High school and college classmates? Colleagues at work? Professional acquaintances? Your boss? Readers of your book or blog? Which leads to the question: can you use your Facebook profile both for personal and professional encounters? You’d probably get different opinions from different people, but my answer is yes, and I do (largely because maintaining one profile takes enough time; managing two would be impossible).
While there’s nothing wrong with ignoring a friend request (I do when I have absolutely no clue who the requester is, when I can’t see their profile because it’s locked down and when there’s no personal message to me explaining who the heck they are), if I (remember) I’ve had contact with the person — either in real life or over email — I usually do accept the request so as not to seem rude. And on the upside, becoming friends on Facebook can lead to genuine friendships or at least professional relationships. Also, my News Feed, made up of status updates from the myriad people and companies I “friend” or “like” is like a personalized newspaper: it serves to provide a good picture of what is going on not only with my “real” friends, but also in the publishing and media worlds.
For those of you who do use Facebook for all aspects of your life (and work), here are a few suggestions about how to manage your online profile:
Turn on your Privacy Settings so your profile can only be viewed by your friends, i.e., people in your network by going to Account (on the upper right hand of the page) and then clicking “Privacy Settings.” You can have one setting for the entire profile; you can also set additional privacy settings for each portion of your profile — the Wall posts, Photos, Basic Information, Friends, etc. (At one point, some high school and college students, alarmed that potential employers were scanning their profiles, changed their Facebook names or shut down their profiles entirely, which seems rather complicated and inconvenient since it’s easy enough to prevent people from seeing parts — or all — of your profile. It’s also possible to hide your profile — also under Privacy Settings — so you won’t even come up in a search of your name.)
Use Facebook’s Friend Lists by going to Account and then “Edit Friends.” This enables you to make certain posts / photos / sections of your profile available to only certain people (or visible to all your friends except for certain people). For example, I have a list entitled “People I Don’t Really Know” and the people on that list cannot view certain personal information, photo albums or status updates.
This type of list can be particularly useful for authors — or anyone else — who may wish to grant family / friends more access to a profile than readers / colleagues / random acquaintances. (In case you’re wondering, no author or colleague has access to my entire profile — I did say I’m pretty liberal about accepting friend requests, so you know the axe is going to fall somewhere — but most friends do see most of it.) Of course, utilizing Friend Lists for the sake of privacy requires that you add people to Friend Lists — which nowadays can be done when sending or accepting a friend request. (At one point I did have to go through my then 400-person friend list and add everyone to at least one list. Better done sooner rather than later, needless to say.)
Turn on notifications for when you’re tagged in a photo or video by going to Account, then Account Settings, then Notifications. Most Facebook users will use discretion when posting photos of themselves. But many of us don’t necessarily trust our hundreds (or thousands) of friends to exercise the same discretion while tagging photos of us. (Of course, sometimes there’s absolutely nothing wrong / illegal / incriminating about a photo other than the fact that you look god awful.) Either way, by turning on notifications, you’ll know the moment someone tags you in a photo or video, although you’ll need to get to a computer to untag yourself since that can’t be done from a mobile device. (You can also change your Privacy Settings so that only certain people can see the photos posted — by others — in which you are tagged, which is different from the photos posted — by you — in which you are tagged.)
Hide status updates you don’t want to see. Let’s face it — some people (and companies) are really boring and it just gets annoying seeing their status updates about politics or religion. All. Day. Long. To get rid of a status update, let your cursor hover over the right side of the update. You will see a “Hide” button pop up that will allow you to permanently hide updates from the person. Status updates from all Facebook applications (like Farmville and Mafia Wars) can also be hidden in the same manner. FB allows you to block all, say, Farmville updates from a user, without blocking all of that user’s status updates, which is incredibly useful because some Farmville players are really quite witty and amusing when they’re not, say, trading eggs and building barns. Or perhaps you’d like to see what they’re reading via GoodReads, but not whether they’re riding a tractor. You get my point.
And lastly, regardless of how high your privacy settings, always post as though your mother and your boss can see everything in your profile. Murphy’s Law and all …
If you’d like to find out more, check out the All Facebook’s 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know.
Do you use Facebook for both personal and professional reasons? Why or why not? And if you do, what are some of your tips for managing the balance?
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Fall 2012: I’ve really enjoyed writing about book publicity and meeting (0nline and in person) writers, publicists, editors, agents and others in the publishing industry, but I’ve — reluctantly — come to the conclusion that I just don’t have the time to maintain this blog.
I imagine there is some information that will remain the same and that will remain useful, but there is much more that is or will become out of date, so please keep that in mind if you find yourself perusing my posts.
For some time now, I’ve closely followed a lot of very informative sites about media and about the publishing industry. Since I find myself quite voluble at times about issues that pertain to my job in the publicity department at a large publishing house, I thought I’d set up a book publicity blog. The purpose of this blog is provide tips, primarily, but also information about publishing / marketing trends that will help book publicists — and hopefully others in media and publishing — do our jobs with greater ease and efficiency. Please note that the opinions expressed on this blog are my own, not those of my company.
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