Even if you don’t really engage much with social media, the chances are you have a Facebook profile. No matter what your employment status, there is likely to come a time when you get a friend request from a professional contact.
It could be an employer, co-worker, client or fellow networker.
In this day and age when everyone seems to take these friendships so seriously, it can be difficult to know how to handle professional relationships online.
Facebook is a relaxed social network, and as such is very different to something like LinkedIn. You’ll no doubt share photos of your family and friends, as well as post your own opinions and have the occasional moan. At times that’s likely to be in conflict with your personal brand.
How then do you manage the crossover between public and professional life, and your unreserved no-holds barred private one? Thankfully, there are four options you can choose from.
# 1 – Restricted list
Within the privacy settings you have the option to add people to a restricted list. This list ensures that they won’t see posts that you only share with friends. However, they will be able to see your public posts, and will likely see anything you post to a mutual friends’ timeline, or posts that you have been tagged in by others.
The best thing about this is it’s easy to use and manage, and people won’t know they’ve been added to the list and Facebook doesn’t notify them. Essentially they become followers, but aren’t aware of any changes.
To use this, click on your drop down arrow in the top right of your page, select SETTINGS, and then BLOCKING from the menu on the left.
All you need to is select specific friends you would like to add to the list, and you’re done.
When you then post something, you can select the specific audience for each post such as public or friends.
# 2 – Create an alias
Another option is to create an alternative account, and use this for either your family and friends, or professional contacts.
That way you can essentially have two very distinct audiences you can post relevant content to.
Technically this is against Facebook rules, and your profile could be shut down if they stumble across it or someone reports you.
# 3 – Accept you have professional contacts
In an ideal world your professional contacts would follow your Facebook business page and therefore wouldn’t have any need to be friends with you on their too. However, some people start off adding their contacts, only later to realise there may be an issue.
You could request that all your professional contacts like your page, and slowly migrate them over to that instead. Though, there will always be some people that don’t do this and you may end up losing them all together.
Alternatively, you could decide to use Facebook in a more professional manner, and refrain from posting anything that might appear negative for your personal or business brand.
You might even go old school and share private and personal information with friends and family in a more private and personal forum. Such as face to face. Or the phone.
# 4 – Don’t add professional contacts
In order to remove any issues about what is or isn’t appropriate content in a business context you might want to consider not adding your professional contacts in the first place.
What you do and don’t post, and who you share it with is always going to be your decision – and there is no right or wrong answer. Only you can decide what feels appropriate to you.
Personally, this is the route I prefer to go down as it makes the most sense for me. I don’t want to censor my content for friends and family just in case a client might see it – so I don’t add clients.
If I get a friend request from a professional contact I advise them of my personal policy, and direct them to like my business page and add me on LinkedIn if they haven’t already. These are two fantastic ways to connect on social media, and ensure everything remains 100% professional and on brand.