This is a guest post by Vern Marker.
Many businesses around the world are cracking down on employee Facebook accounts and other social networking activity. Beyond that, many companies are looking online when considering potential new hires. So why is it so important to keep your personal and professional lives separate on Facebook? The answers seem very obvious.
By being online you automatically give up privacy and autonomy. Your online identity isn’t simply just what you put on your profile. Instead, it is the accumulation of tags, comments and other friend-generated content. Because of this, it’s important to set the tone of your account. If you need to, set up separate accounts: one for professional use and the other for personal use.
On your personal account, make sure that your Facebook privacy settings are restricted to only those whom you choose to be friends with. A professional page may need less security as you want people to be able to easily find you, your company and your business credentials. For more information on security settings, I’d recommend Facebook’s security settings page. If you’ve already have a personal account that has information you’d rather just get rid of, you should consider disabling your account, losing your contacts and content, and starting over. You may consider keeping a personal account and optimizing settings and friend lists to have better control over your professional appearances—but my recommendation is to keep them completely separate. This is especially true if you are newer to Facebook use.
Make sure that on your personal account, you still monitor content heavily. Always be on top of any pictures tagged of you. You may untag yourself, but it may also be a good idea to reach out to that friend and ask that they delete any unfavorable pictures. It’s important to friend acquaintances wisely and make certain that they are a person you wouldn’t mind seeing your personal content.
Once your personal account has been protected, there are some steps to using a professional account to your benefit. While both accounts represent who you are, only your professional account should be utilized to promote your skills and/or businesses. Keep in mind, Facebook is an excellent place to professionally network as long as you do so mindfully.
Use Facebook Groups to your benefit. Make sure you participate in intelligent dialogue around areas related to your professional experience, appropriate hobbies and/or business. Seek out colleagues and request them as a friend. Engage in conversation through groups and “Like” pages to establish a wider network.
Integrate your online presence with your offline presence. Include your professional Facebook profile URL on your business cards or email signature, for example. Don’t be afraid to ask people after meeting them whether or not they have an online profile that you could follow in order to keep in touch. Whenever you give presentations, make sure that you include your Facebook URL along with other key contact information. Use Facebook as a resource offline, just as much as you think of it as an online tool.
When you make posts on your professional wall, make sure they are appropriate. Mix up more personalized status updates with links, videos, pictures and other content related to your interests or business. Establishing yourself as a resource and knowledge expert through engaging, sharing social bookmarking, etc. will help you gain credibility with your network. Don’t come across as pushy. Even if you are in affiliate marketing, remember that people come online to look for information about products, not to be sold products. If you provide quality information that is credible and interesting, business will follow.
Are you interested in using Facebook for business? Do you want to build your professional credibility online?