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.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.