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The two faces of Facebook

Being an interactive marketing evangelist, one of the big things that I’m having issues with resolving is how to use Facebook as a marketing tool for an individual. On a personal level, Facebook can be a typical social network site like Myspace or Friendster. However, for marketing professionals using Facebook, it can easily become a “conflict of interest”, similar to Facebook-meets-LinkedIn. Just where do you draw the line? If you’re using social networking sites for your professional life, do you find that you can’t merge the two lives together?

While social networks have been more for personal communications, more and more businesses are finding professional uses of web 2.0 and the individuals are setting up shop. But for those who have been on Facebook (and while I’m using them specifically, this example applies to the social sites that have a majority of personal uses), they are starting to have more professional contacts. I know that for my own Facebook page, I predominantly had it for my friends and family, but slowly it has grown to include more network contacts, many that I’ve met at conferences, partners, vendors, and even co-workers. So as the common practice goes, I’m forced to remove all personal items of interest such as personal comments, “child’ish” applications, and refocus my efforts to make my page more appropriate of my job.

Naturally it’s hard to draw the line where your personal Facebookpage ends and professional site begins. One clear option would be for you to simply create an alternative Facebook profile (or why not a “fan” page?), but then you’d have to explain why you have the two accounts when a professional incorrectly tries to add your personal account – it just makes things awkward. Is there a simple way to go about and make an agnostic page that would be appealing to both your friends and network colleagues? Probably not. Using social media can definitely be a double-edged sword that can be both dangerous, but informative to your relationship with others.

So what to do? There isn’t a clear answer. I have since removed any inappropriate items (comments, applications, details, etc.) as most of the people on my page are more professional contacts versus being old high school or college friends. However, I have kept photo albums, twitter status updates, and many comments still available in order for them to still understand who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I still think of everyone I am connected to on Facebook as my friends and also another way for me to network, but before you think that you can post whatever you want on Facebook or any other web 2.0 application, think about who you could have seeing it. Your professional life and your personal life could depend on it.

Published in Facebook Social Media

  • I think the answer is, you have to be who you are- personal and professional have merged with the advent of social media- and today's 21-29 year olds know no boundaries in this sphere.

  • Dave called it out and as more time goes on, more people are getting use to see personal things in professionals.

    It's odd for those of over 30, nerve racking for those of us over 40, and down right scary for the rest to have so much personal information out there. Nevertheless, if it's new business culture to mix “business and pleasure”… eventually it'll be strange NOT have personal elements of your life in your professional profiles… you'll be the guy that people wonder what you're hiding.

  • @Dave and @Ernesto I completely agree with your assessment and think that if you're using Facebook for professional reasons, you shouldn't make it so “stale” that people start to think they're interacting with a robot. However, the conflict here seems to be HOW MUCH personal should be there? I started using Facebook as a personal means to communicating with my friends and it's slowly grown to encompass my professional network and many of my (now former) co-workers. Obviously I'm holding the basic rule of avoiding any work-related conflict of interest from appearing on my FB page, but there goes the same issue…how much is too much?

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  • I wholeheartedly agree. I have several friends on various social networking sites that want me to join, and add them as friends. I am a computer professional, but I have never (and probably never will) join these internet websites. As I am on the computer all day at work, the last thing I want to do when I get home is get back on the computer.

  • I wholeheartedly agree. I have several friends on various social networking sites that want me to join, and add them as friends. I am a computer professional, but I have never (and probably never will) join these internet websites. As I am on the computer all day at work, the last thing I want to do when I get home is get back on the computer.