Can Private People Really Have a Social Brand on Facebook?

by Kimberly Bordonaro October 23rd, 2012 


As perhaps the most intimate of the social media platforms, Facebook can be the most confusing among the business crowd.

Why? Because it is primarily used to connect with people across the multi-channels of our lives and not to hear a brand's hyperbole or receive in-your-face sales pitches.

As non-business people, we log on to Facebook to:

  • congratulate friends on their baby and wedding pictures
  • broadcast our life announcements to extended family
  • share our opinions
  • complain about bad customer experiences
  • watch a video or two
  • and maybe even spy on our high school nemesis or ex-crushes

Basically, we can choose to be voyeuristic observers or we can lead the conversation. No pressure.

But as a business person, the demands of being social while maintaining a private life can seem impossible.

Social Branding For Private People - Can You Really Have It All?

The evolution of the Internet to the "socialnet" means that we went from the anonymity of user nicknames ("Kim007") to using our own names (Kimberly Bordonaro) and in doing so, all that we post now leaves an imprint on our personal brand.

You have the ability to create a social brand, proactively increasing your credibility and securing a positive reputation for yourself. When done correctly, your audience will feel a genuine, personal connection to you and will reward you with their loyalty.

But when done incorrectly, social sharing is not only useless and somewhat annoying... its dangerous.

There is a dark side of personal branding. What you divulge can also destroy your business or job position. How many times do you hear of a school teacher or politician in hot water for posting inappropriate pictures? Or a spokesperson getting canned for taking their personal opinions too far on a public platform? Aside from the obvious ways over-sharing can hurt your brand, it can also lead to Internet stalking and other security concerns. This leaves some business people resistant to getting involved in social media at all.

So now what?

How do you post about company happenings but also about your trip to Vegas? In a world where everything personal is public - how can the public safely have a personal online life?

5 Tips To Be Privately Social On Facebook

  1. Be Strategically You. First things first, get clear about what you will share online. Select a few non-business related topics you are comfortable discussing that your audience will find relatable. Your extracurricular activities, hobbies, and personal passions demonstrate your human side in a non-polarizing way.
  2. Encourage Subscriptions. Facebook offers an opt-in feature that allows you to connect with non-friends through public posts. When they subscribe to your updates, what you publicly share will appear their news-feeds. This feature also allows you control over who can comment on the post. If you find accepting friend invitations from strangers to be creepy, this feature is perfect for you. Also, if you have gone over your friend limit, this feature still allows people to follow you without being your friend.
  3. Create a Secret Group. For private posts that you want to selectively share with a few people like close friends and family, create a secret group page. Only the members you choose can see the group, who's in it, and what the other members post. For instance, if you are adverse to sharing you children's names and photos with everyone but still want to share their special milestones with your relatives, this is how you can do that.
  4. Make Your Fans VIPS. If you prefer people connect with you on your Facebook business page and not your personal timeline, give them a reason to go there. Make it a special space where fans can find exclusive information and contests, personally interact with you, and be the first to know your special announcements.
  5. Edit Yourself. Before you share anything, ask yourself if what you are about to post will help or hurt your personal brand. If your post was shown at a board meeting, press conference, or to your most important client, investor, or employer, would it hinder your credibility or reputation? If so, back away from your keyboard. Delete it.

Keep the conversation flowing What has been your biggest challenge in maintaining your privacy while being socially active? How will you implement these ideas with your Facebook account?

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy 17 Creative Ways To Promote Your Personal Brand Through Video

Kimberly Bordonaro

Kimberly Bordonaro is a brand strategist and the founder of Brandspiration, a blog that uses ridiculously fun lyrical references to explain how everyday entrepreneurs can create their distinctive brands.

Brandspiration Blog

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2 Responses to “Can Private People Really Have a Social Brand on Facebook?”

  1. This is a really tricky subject I've been wrestling a lot with myself. I have carved a niche in the SEO industry and a lot of people are following me in one medium or the other. Your bullet 5 is the tricky part for me, of course I do edit myself but only to a certain point.

    A lot of advise is telling me to stay away from blogging/posting/tweeting when upset for example. However, that's always when I get the best and most reactions, that's when I reach outside my normal audience. I'm almost prepared to state that all blog post that have been really successful for me have contained a large amount of passion and it's very easy to edit that passion out.

    I'm not trying to contradict you here but I find the balance very hard to find, was hoping you could add some more thoughts?

  2. Thanks for your comment, Magnus! Great question and I'm happy to expand on the issue…

    I'd never suggest altering your personality or editing out your passion. That is a major element of your brand and how you emotionally connect with your audience. Always be authentically you – however here's the stipulation- but when expressing yourself, do so terms relevant to your audience.

    I don't see anything wrong with passionately expressing yourself, stirring up controversy, and having a snarky tone of voice, IF that is part of your brand's platform. However, if you are polarizing or turning off your audience in such a way that you are losing potential customers, investors, or employment opportunities, you should probably rethink what you are sharing and/or hit that delete button. You're not going to please everyone at the end of the day – so be yourself with purpose.

    I'd back up to the first point and identify what you are comfortable sharing (or expressing). Then, I'd think about your audience and consider if what you are writing is appropriate for them. If not (but you still heavily have an opinion you want to express), I suggest creating that secret Facebook group for the members of your group (friends/family for instance) for those types of posts. However, even then you have to remember that your digital imprints are permanent and you never know what can pop up in the future for something that you thought was private.