Recently joined a discussion on LinkedIn about how to use Facebook for business – something I don’t do. In the process, made the following comments (you might be interested) you can always post your thoughts in reply.
I started by posting this question:
Should I accept FB friend requests from people I only know through business networking events?
I went on to explain:
I don’t have a FB page of business (and don’t want one) but I do have a personal page and I keep getting friend requests from people who, although perfectly charming, are not yet what I would call friends (don’t ask for a definition).
Do I reject (or worse ignore) and risk offending them – do I try to explain and sound lame (“I like you but not a lot”) – or do I open up my page to anyone I’ve met (or spoken to, tweeted with, etc.) and just hide the time-lines of people I’m not that interested in?
Various people said I should keep Facebook purely for friends – but, as I pointed out, all three platforms seem to blur the distinction between friend, acquaintance and stranger.
This led me to the following observations:
Unlike some, I don’t protect my Twitter posts (can’t see the point) – so anyone is welcome to follow me – however I don’t automatically follow everyone back: a) because it is pointless – as I have said elsewhere, just because someone ‘follows’ you, doesn’t mean they actually pay attention, b) I prefer to only follow people that I find interesting or engaging (I use private lists to make this easier). I have met very few of these people for real – though I’m pleased to say that is slowly changing.
I tend to agree with the view that just because we connect on Twitter, doesn’t mean we should connect on LinkedIn or Facebook. I used to keep LinkedIn specifically for business people I had actually met or worked with – but I have gradually relaxed that rule to include local business people that I have met on Twitter/Facebook AND am likely to meet at a LinkedIn group networking event. Still, I don’t just link with anyone who asks. Again it comes down to the quality of the connection not just the quantity – I like my connections to reflect some sort of professional or social engagement or shared interest.
Facebook is the odd one – I only joined it to keep in touch with a couple of relations who weren’t on LinkedIn. However, setting up the #Norwich2013 campaign page last year brought me into virtual contact with quite a few people who are also passionate about local culture. After they joined the group they sent friend requests that I could not decline because they had already given me a lot of public support. So now some 30-40% of my FB friends are people I only know through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Since my FB posts tend (like my Twitter posts) to be more about #VisitNorfolk, #VisitNorwich and #Norwich201 than anything particularly personal (and have nothing to do with business), I can’t help wondering whether I shouldn’t throw caution to the wind and link with anyone so long as I know them from at least one other platform (and preferably that they are local – so I stand a chance of meeting them). This would tend to reflect the sort of pages/groups that I like.
You see, FB feels to me more like a public space for engaging and campaigning rather than a private chat-room (I have my home and the phone for that). Does anyone else feel the same?
I agree that there is a lot of blurring between friends, colleagues, business associates and life in general – not just on social media platforms but in everyday realtime dealings with people. I think it is impossible to separate out. It is even more tricky in my area of work, culture, as by its very definition it crosses into ‘what I do to enjoy life’.
Like you, I use all three platforms (though I have yet to get myself properly organised on them), and I also have a selection of hats to wear. My approach is to treat all social media like I do real life – LinkedIn represents the context of work, where I mostly keep a professional face but sometimes talk about personal and social things (a workplace that only deals with work is a very boring place) and Facebook represents my home life – where I sometimes talk about work as it interests me – which again, reflects real life. But some things I keep in their place eg I wouldn’t post up success with my sourdough on my LinkedIn page, nor would I tell my Facebook friends at length what I think about a new arts policy (well, I might!). Twitter is like the small talk area, the canteen or coffeeshop, the incidental phone conversation or stop in the street. But in the same way you can’t contain and control your contact with people in the real world, you can’t quite contain them in cyberspace either, even though it sopmetimes causes embarrassing sitiuations. I am sure that everyone has experienced this scenario – you are out at the theatre with your partner for a social evening and he/she has been complaining that you never think about anything but work and someone rocks up and wants to talk to you about that conference you both attended last week – and partner’s eyes roll to the ceiling as they drift off towards the bar. You have to deal with it best way and as politely as you can, being as honest and tactful as possible in the situation, and make a judgement. Same with social media, but actually it is easier to control when and how you interact with people.
But overall, the main thing to remember is that social media is public whatever privacy settings you put on it, that is the point of it – to socialise, not to privatise. I wouldn’t say anything on any of the platforms that I wouldn’t mind being overheard at work, in a cafe or other public place. People who expect privacy in social media are barking up the wrong tree. If I want a private conversation with relatives, family, colleagues, anyone in fact I direct message, chat or email.
So, I would throw caution to the wind if I were you, and make ‘friends’ willy-nilly in all areas, but be careful what you say as it is all public in the end. There are a few people I choose not to link with but mostly – as again in true in real life – you never know when an acquaintance will turn out to be a real asset or when a long-time friend will turn sour.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you M – think you are quite right (particularly on the privacy issue) – social interactions don’t fall into neat boxes – they are messy – they reflect the ebb and flow of relationships. Caution thrown!
Hmm, I use all three, and indeed Flickr, and also run Facebook pages for half a dozen clients and twitter accounts for several. The main issues I’ve had have mainly been around the confusion I can cause myself, and also the “cross fertilisation” people have a terrible habit of thinking because they interact with me via a page, that I will want to be their friend automatically, initially I made the mistake of adding people. The reason I say mistake is because I’m pretty forthright, will argue my corner, and tend towards some fairly lurid and occasionally colourful (and possibly a bit tasteless) humour. Particularly via Facebook, and also through my private twitter account. the irony being of course that both of those have more friend or followers than my prfessional ‘dry’ pages or accounts.
I am far more careful now, I’ve realised there a couple of people I don’t actually entirely like or trust, who I’m friends with on social media who I now more or less wish I wasn’t but haven’t got the heart to block/defriend them. On the plus side, I’ve also built some very strong relationships with people, both business and beer drinking, which is nice.
I get criticised by some people for eternally being on either FB or Twitter, but in reality it’s at least partly how w now work, I actually blow hot and cold on all of the platforms, So I do tend to dip in and out personally, I left Linkedin for 18 months out of sheer boredom, and then rejoined, it is useful as a point of contact, but largely for people I would only ever see on a business footing, with a smattering of others and a few friends. Increasingly the edges of all the circles are blurring out, which is a bit strange.
Curiously, I found this blog via your FB profile Huw and did think about sending a friend request before I read this piece, depends very much on anyone’s tolerance to my constant profanity, music and photography posts and arguing (as seen on twitter).
Generally I think I’m with Marion, Caution thrown, but I do temper it more now with a bit of sense about who I might offend and how my FB behaviour might be perceived by clients, most of my old clients know what I’m like, some of the new ones might not be able to cope!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Nick – know exactly what you mean when you say: “I’ve realised there a couple of people I don’t actually entirely like or trust, who I’m friends with on social media who I now more or less wish I wasn’t but haven’t got the heart to block/defriend them.” I think that is what I worry about. Thankfully on facebook you can simply hide people you don’t particularly like – the same if you use Seesmic for twitter – you can mute people without the social angst of unfollowing them. Agree that LinkedIn is a bit boring – but in some ways that makes it ideal for business. The blurring of the circles is a good thing, I think, and reflects the reality of life.
Do say hi on facebook – I might honour you with a response 😉 – and perhaps one day we can meet for that beer – cheers – H