When I give presentations on social media to entrepreneurs or business owners, one of the most common questions I get is “how do I separate my personal and professional lives on Facebook?”
A few things to consider here:
- There is no one solution. Everyone’s situation is different. How you use Facebook is a function of your personal life and goals, as well as your professional life and goals.
- Are your goals aligned? If so a separation of information may not be that important. After all, if you are creating a life that is unified, then an artificial segregation of information might be counterproductive.
How involved do you want to be in “judging” your connections? Although it is completely possible to set privacy settings in Facebook on a friend-by-friend basis (see below), you might decide that it is too much work to continually monitor this. If so, then it is probably ok to NOT separate your information and/or friends, but it DOES mean that you will need to be mindful of what you post on Facebook. This means keeping a bit of yourself private. Think of the most personal thing you would want that possible business partner to know about you, and don’t go beyond that in your posting. Additionally, you have to take a good look at your past and decide…
- Do you have something to hide? Reconnecting with high school and college friends is great, but let’s face it – that long-forgotten photo of you running around a dorm with an empty case of beer on your head may not be the image you want popping up on your wall. If this is you, then some separation of information might be called for.
- Are you unsure of your path? This is actually where I find most clients. If you don’t quite know yet how much information you wish to share on Facebook, then creating some separation might be helpful.
So how do you do this? Use friend lists.
By creating a “Professional” friend list that is separate from your “Personal” friend list, you can restrict access to various parts of your profile. For example, if you don’t want your professional friends to see any of your pictures, you can edit your photo album privacy settings to exclude your professional list. Same with other parts of your profile.
Boris Epstein of Mashable.com has put together an excellent “how to” on this subject that I recommend for anyone wishing to implement a professional vs. personal friend list.