Most of us have created a Facebook persona that may or may not accurately reflect who we are. This online identity has the potential to positively or negatively impact how we’re perceived in the workplace depending on who can see our information. Do you want to work with someone who’s always watering a fake garden or actively promoting a political candidate that offends you?
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common personality types on Facebook and followed it with strategies to help you customize how your varying audiences see you. Which one are you, and how does your Facebook profile impact your business?
1. The Gamer
Gamers constantly invite you to play Farmville, Zombie Apocalypse 7, or the newest game du jour.
The bad version: Spamming all of your friends (some of whom are business contacts) with countless invites and game updates - especially during the work week - probably doesn't send the best message about you and your priorities.
The good version: Identify key prospects and join them. Playing games with the intention to connect can help you forge and strengthen relationships.
2. The Activist
Activists have a cause and they want to share their passion via posts, likes, and groups. Often it's a political or religious message, but activism doesn't necessarily end there.
The bad version: Activism can be alienating. Even if you hold deep political convictions, ask yourself if you would mention those affiliations at a professional networking event. Prospects may be hesitant to do business with someone who voted for a candidate that enrages them.
The good version: As long as you maintain a positive message, connecting with people who share your beliefs can be a great way to form meaningful relationships. The trick here is to avoid saying anything inflammatory about the people you disagree with.
3. The Diary Writer
These Facebook users catalogue all their activities on Facebook-- the good, the bad, and the boring.
The bad version: This can be perceived as over-sharing. The details of your romantic life or your ability to polish off a keg on a work night might not be the best information to share with a coworker or potential client.
The good version: Sharing your world on Facebook can help colleagues get a greater sense of who you are and may in turn, make you more relatable. As always, restraint is wise. This graph illustrates the value of adjusting what you post about to suit your audience.
Image Credit: Wait, But Why?
4. The Self-Promoter
Self-promoters present a better, happier, more successful version of themselves on Facebook. I think we can all agree that some people go overboard.
The bad version: Self-promotion can isolate others. Don't brag about how you have the best house and went on the best vacation with the best fiancé who's extremely good looking. At least not too often.
The Good Version: It's always positive to present an image of success, but don't let it bleed over into pure vanity.
5. The Critic
Critics always seem to have a differing view that needs to be considered. It’s entertaining when they critique other critics, resulting in debates of endless comments.
The bad version: The bad critic complains and brings down any discussion they're a part of. Don't be that guy. Remember the old adage “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.” The same is true for Facebook.
The good version: There’s nothing wrong with having a differing viewpoint as long as you find a respectful and constructive place to present your idea. Being bold and speaking out can garner respect.
6. The Melting Pot
The melting pot is the perfect mix of all of the above. They share just the right amount of their values and personal life to seem genuine. They understand that moderation of all personas can be beneficial in building successful relationships. They network like pros and help people with useful information. These Facebook superstars present the model profile.
Controlling Your Facebook Presence
Now it’s time to take a closer look at how your business connections may perceive you. Identify your Facebook persona and decide how guarded your posts, groups, likes and games should be. Many people use Facebook to build stronger business relationships, but it’s a best practice to ensure that information you wouldn’t discuss in person is kept private. Comb through your privacy settings to control who can see what. Facebook has added a Privacy Shortcuts button to their toolbar which stays with you throughout the site, so it’s not too complicated to edit most of your privacy settings there:
This short cut tool allows you to control who sees your posts and what posts show up on your wall. It’s most effective if you’ve put your friends into groups (e.g.; close friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, etc.) because you can control which groups have access to what information. To set your groups, find the “Friends” link on the bottom left of your Facebook home screen:
This will bring you to a page where you can edit your friends’ group memberships, allowing you more control in your privacy settings.
One privacy issue that isn’t addressed in Facebook’s privacy shortcuts or on their main privacy page is the visibility of your likes, events, and group memberships. These are set to public on default, meaning not just your friends, but literally anyone on Facebook can see them. In order to edit the privacy settings for this information, click on your name in the top right corner of the page to open your timeline. From there, click on the “More” tab underneath your cover photo:
Any one of the links in the More tab will bring you to a page where you can edit and change the visibility for your likes and groups. Once you’re on the page, click the little pen button on the upper right hand corner of each section to see your privacy options:
Now that you have the tools to assess and monitor your Facebook profile, we suggest you invest some time into evaluating your personal brand. Are you projecting a persona that would engage prospective business contacts? Have we missed any professional Facebook fouls? If specific examples come to mind, let us know the how in the comment section, just don't tell us the who.