August 11, 2009

The changing face of Facebook

Posted in Facebook tagged at 10:21 am by R

Way, way back in 2003, I was a junior at Gonzaga University. At the time, Facebook was a brand new way to communicate about parties and events, to see pictures of the parties you couldn’t make it to (or couldn’t remember). It was a way to keep up with your friends from other schools. Facebook was our own safe little network where we shared our college antics, thoughts and other information with peers.

Six years later, those early adopters to Facebook are professionals working hard for a living. Six years later, bosses, managers, clients and other work related individuals are signing on as well and — if your profile is not properly managed — have access to some of those less-than-professional photos, posts, etc.

According to a study from Printproof, eight percent of U.S. companies have dismissed an employee for behavior deemed inappropriate on social media. Mashable gave a hilarious example in their post on the study yesterday.

So what does it mean for the average Facebook user? Get in control of who sees what in your profile.

Just as you’re not likely to share money woes, relationship troubles or many other personal matters with a boss or other person with authority in your office (though that closeness does sometimes exist), don’t allow them access to the really personal stuff on-line.

Facebook has settings which allow you to control who sees personal information, photos, specific photo albums, videos, status updates and links. You can even create lists to categorize and easily manage how different categories of contacts view your profile content.

It comes down to a personal branding issue really.

Think about the sub-brands you personal brand is comprised of:

  • Friends (college, high school, etc.)
  • Family (mom, dad, bro, sis, etc.)
  • Work (clients, boss, colleagues, outside associates, etc.)

Think about the brand perception you want to have among certain groups:

  • Should mom, dad and your boss be able to see all your photo albums?
  • Do you want your colleagues to have access to that status update rant?
  • Should your clients be able to access links to news stories on politically sensitive topics?

Establish and maintain the characteristics you wish to present to each of these groups. And keep in mind that while you may limit the access of some, it’s important to be your own editor on appropriateness and language (and even grammar!). It can feel like an overwhelming and unending task but it is worth the diligent work.

Facebook is no longer just a college playground. Facebook has become your face to all the worlds you participate in — with HR managers, bosses and other professional contacts watching your every status update.

Fortunately, you do have some control. So take it! Brand yourself well.

~R

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