If you think sharing your stories, pictures and opinions on Facebook advances your professional brand think again or simply just think before you do. That may be asking a lot because it seems to me Facebook friends appreciate your frank responses. Or at least that’s what you think when you start seeing your likes add up after bashing or praising your favorite political figure or celebrity, friend or foe. Facebook encourages the impulse in all of us to blurt out whatever may come across our mind, act cute or be funny. Now before anyone starts bashing me on my opinion about this social media mecca remember I possess a business and personal Facebook account. Perhaps that means I could be a part of the problem I see.
Before I continue to roll, don’t view my take as a total indictment of Facebook. But your behavior on Facebook should be under constant scrutiny by you first before you lull yourself to sleep and get into trouble that can negatively affect your career and life.
What do I hear people say about Facebook when I ask them about their accounts as it relates to their career:
“I keep mine locked down. Really no one can see it but my friends or the friends I want to see stuff.”
“Facebook is just their for me to keep an eye on my kids and share some family things with people. I know others see this stuff but it’s mostly for my close circle.”
“I’m on it but I don’t really put anything out there like comments. I play some games and try to connect with past friends.”
“I kind of like having the outlet to say things I believe in. I don’t bash my employer and I am not out there trying to be too loud but I like the outlet for sports, games and keeping my friends up to date about stuff.”
So if you look at the above statements recently heard in the last month, I can’t look at them and say the behavior represents the worst I have heard about or seen. But in reality well-meaning people who don’t necessarily habitually post negative things on Facebook seem to get in trouble a lot. Ask just about any divorce attorney or other prosecutor where they go to find out about your silly or bad habits. They go to Facebook. Where might identity thieves shop when they want to find out more about you? Facebook and other places where you leave your wallet and keys on the table. Facebook loves it that you share about everything about yourself. They share that demographic data with businesses and people that pay for that data so they can market to you. Sadly as you probably know good, solid data about you exists for the negative influences in this world as well whether they pay for it or not. Who wants to be friended and followed by creeps and criminals? Not I.
So what should you do live in fear daily about sharing data online? No, I wouldn’t but it would be a great idea for you to be more professional on Facebook and treat it a little bit more like Linked In. That means you could be on Facebook but imagine your peers, competitors and bosses check your accounts daily if they do or if they don’t. Just pretend and act like your mom and employer check your actions online and follow your posts. Boy that cuts the fun out it, doesn’t it? In other words just be more mindful of what you say and do. Facebook comments, messages, likes, and posts may seem innocuous to you but they may not be to others. Think long and hard about any picture or video you post. Does it enhance your professional and personal brand or does it detract? Asking someone to think before they impulsively do something asks a lot.
I feel strongly that Facebook will constantly try to blur the lines between business and personal, commerce and impulsive actions. Part of the Facebook brand and brilliance remains clear – the forum allows this blurring of the personal and professional lines. Linked In seems to become more like Facebook all the time. Facebook may be becoming more like Linked In. If you want to advance your professional brand networking with Facebook friends can indeed turn out ideas and leads. You may be able to one click apply for jobs on Facebook like you can on Linked In. In fact recent talk has come up no why Facebook should buy Linked In by CNBC’s Jim Cramer. He makes an excellent argument.
I simply suggest you look at all the forums and opportunities to act professional on this so-called social media site.
So what can you do more of on Facebook if you don’t delete your account?
1. Share professional, brand building updates
2. Follow professional people, sites and organizations that are apart of your professional brand.
3. Participate in causes linked to your professional brand.
4. Say only positive things about anyone and ignore negative discussions.
5. Share more pictures about your volunteer work that builds others and your career.
Image Credit: instantshift.com