Mixing Facebook Friends and Business
[UPDATED October 3, 2011 to address new Facebook changes involving privacy and lists]
Back when I signed up for Facebook, it was only accessible to those of us with college/university email addresses. So, you can imagine that my friend list was pretty limited at that point in time. It was a close-knit group of friends I went to school with (or had gone to school with back in the high school). I didn’t worry at all about the information I shared about myself because I knew my small group of Facebook friends quite intimately. Fast forward to present day…
Now my “friend” list also includes family, business contacts, and those who I barely know (i.e. people who I’ve met once and thought were cool). Up until recently this was an “issue” that nagged at me every time I got a new friend request…..I thought to myself “how in the world can I keep being “me” within my Facebook account, while at the same time not sharing too much info with certain people??”
One of the solutions my colleagues have used is to direct people to a fan page where they can “like” your business instead of being a personal friend. Fan pages are handy for keeping personal and business separate and keeping prospective and current customers connected to what’s happening in your business, but here’s the downside: Pages make it difficult for people to get to know, like and trust you as a person. And you don’t have the chance to get to know them very well either.
So what’s my solution? Lists! If you’re not already using lists, get ready for a fundamental shift in how you use Facebook.
Here’s the short and sweet version of what Facebook lists can do for you:
- You can sort your “friends” into different lists and set your privacy settings to share information with them on a list-by-list basis. This way you can make it so that no one except close friends can see when you’ve been tagged in a photograph (I know what you’re thinking – phew, next time I get tagged in a pic dancing like a freak at a stag party none of my business contacts will see it! ), you can even make it so that your status updates are protected from certain lists of people.
- Oh, and one other really cool thing – you can filter your news feed based on the lists you’ve created (so you can see what’s new with your close friends and ignore those annoying people from high school).
- No one will know that you have added them to a list*, or that you even have lists. Unless you add someone to a *smart list (at this point it seems like “Family” is the only list that notifies those who are added to it).
1. Create Your Facebook Lists
Choose a logical way to categorize people. I have a group of people who I think of as “close friends” and I share different posts with them than I do with everyone else. Here is an insight into my lists so you get an idea of how you might want to organize yours:
- Close Friends (smart list – I used to have a list called “Close Friends” and I merged this into Facebook’s smart list, coincidentally also called ‘Close Friends’. Because this is a smart list it means you are automatically subscribed to all updates from these people. You can change that setting on each list specifically under “manage”. I also highly recommend you turn off notifications for close friends updates. )
- Family (it’s nice to be able to click on this list and see what’s happening with your family only)
- Professionals (I like being able to see what’s new with my business professional friends and comment on their status updates. I also restrict them from seeing most of my photos in order to keep things as professional as possible, but share enough to still build trust)
- Acquaintances (people I barely know. These people get to see the updates that I post to them, or that I make “public’ )
If you can’t find where to go to add a new list, click here: http://www.facebook.com/bookmarks/lists
2. Add Friends to Your Lists
3. Manage how much information you want to receive from those on your lists
4. Customize who sees the items you share based on your lists
Go through your photo albums, notes, status updates, privacy settings and select who sees what. For example, you can customize it so that all friends can see your family photo album except professionals and acquaintances. Going forward you can set the privacy of every status update and share.
5. Modify what shows in your feed
Facebook is trying to get to know your interests, and is showing you stories based on what they know about you. You can further customize this by marking things as ‘top stories’ that you like and hiding things that are boring to you.