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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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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.