Facebook PR Strategy Guide: Be Friends with . . .

Here’s the biggest question I get about Facebook: How do I separate my friends and my family from my business?

The biggest concern? A clash of the multiple personalities that exist in one’s life.

You know who you are: a mom, a sorority sister, an aunt, a book club member, a church-goes, a music fan, a fashion fanatic, a gardener groupie, a volunteer, a blogger, a writer, a consultant, an organizer, an entrepreneur, a cat lover, etc. etc. etc.

This just in: you’re not accepting friends, you’re creating a community. A community that’s anchored by one person: you.

Every one of the personalities has its own lively friendship circle in real life. What happens when these diverse friends want to join your business universe on Facebook?

Can they all get along?

Will your professional persona survive if another mom writes on your wall about your kid’s birthday party?

What happens if a sorority sister posts pictures of a party from 20 years ago?

Or, an elementary school chum puts the picture you hate the most – you wearing ultra nerdy glasses and braces?

Oh, the fear of it all.

This is Your Life on Facebook

Luckily for me now, but not then, I wasn’t that popular in high school. However, my friend Lynne was pretty popular and now her friends are starting to connect with me on Facebook. Why? She’s not on Facebook. I am. [Lynne is advising me accept their friend requests and tell them how she’s doing.]

People who were popular in high school often have an issue with people who want to watch them on Facebook now. A woman in one of my workshops said she got fed up with people tracking her every move. So, she wrote on her own wall about how people should get a life and stop watching hers. Over 130 people left comments.

It’s surprising how emotional being friends on Facebook can be: a friend sends a message telling you about a serious health problem, you find out what your kids are doing from a friend – hopefully all good [“wasn’t that your kid with the Franco family’s new puppy on Facebook?” a friend asked me – yes, he uploaded the pictures for them], notes from college friends melt years with a wistful longing for gong back in time and pictures pluck all kinds of heartstrings. This isn’t the kind of place you check in and out without taking and leaving values and emotions.

Facebook Friend Options

A common approach is to use LinkedIn for business and Facebook for friends and family. When you accept someone’s friend request, you can limit their view of your profile or you can let them see everything. As I see it, you have four options:

  • Be friends with no one and stay away.
  • Be friends only for business: set up a profile for business contacts only and tell people who send you a friend request that this is a strictly for business connection. You have to be really, really good at setting boundaries if you choose this one.
  • Be friends in two places: Activate dual profiles: one for business and one for personal connections.
  • Be friends with everybody.

Facebook Friend Strategy Guide

In a very informal poll, I’ve been asking people I know how they manage their Facebook friend requests. Although I didn’t expect this, I’m finding I can predict who does what based on their personality.

The more gregarious – and successful – say: I’m friends with everybody. For these folks, there’s no separation. That’s not to say they don’t check people out before they befriend them. One person did say the only problem is when someone posts something on their wall they’d like to change right away. If they’re reading the update on their Blackberry, they can’t get to the Facebook site to change it until they get to their computer. So, don’t stray too far away and you should be good,

Questions to ask to help you develop a Facebook Friend Strategy:

1. Who am I – online and offline?

2. What is my name – maiden or maiden and married for women?

2. What’s my personality?

3. Who do I want to be friends with?

4. When don’t I want to be friends? Why?

5. What am I most afraid of?

6. What’s the worst possible thing that could happen?

7. Will being on Facebook make a bigger difference in my business or my personal life?

8. Will my customers care if I’m on Facebook?

How much time do you want to spend isn’t on the list because it doesn’t need to be. Invest only as much as you like and feel comfortable with. Don’t feel bad about not responding to invitations to join a group, take a quiz or buy something silly. One of my power Facebook friends says he only responds to 1-3% of everything. What happens to the rest? It goes with the flow . . .

Update 03.15.09

This post was originally scheduled to run on March 5, the day before I left for California, but it stayed in hatching mode until tonight when I went to the grocery store with my 14 year old son. We ran into another mom and her daughter – we’ve know each other for nine years. Our kids went to kindergarten together. Every now and then, we moms brush up against business talk – she’s a successful realtor and well, you know who I am. But, we’ve never really talked about much more than the kids and the schools. Tonight when she asked me what was new for some reason I brought up Chicago’s Social Media Club. She asked me if I could send her some information on Facebook. I looked her up, sent her a friend request and asked if she knew about the social media guru for realtors who lives a few blocks away from us. My new Facebook strategy? Be friends with [almost] everyone. What’s yours?

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