Communication / Technology

How “Open” Should I Be on Facebook?

Answer: An amazing thing happened on the way to the funeral.

My dad died very suddenly – only three months ago – at sixty-eight. While sharing my feelings about this loss isn’t easy, pen to page I can always open up. And in the pits of grief one night, I started plastering my thoughts about my dad all over my Facebook page. In fact, from that moment until now, I have had days of bleeding grief on my profile wall – open for all eyes to see. It wasn’t that I was intentionally being that vulnerable and naked. It’s just that it’s MY page, and it has been my way to spray paint all over the building that I feel lost and angry and confused. My dad was here, and ten minutes later, he was gone – and that is baffling.

Every time I’d start sharing on my very public Facebook page, however, I wondered if I was making a mistake. After all, one of the first things I teach clients and students is PROTECT YOUR BRAND. To keep it simple, “protect your brand” comes down to three basic things:

1) Watch your photos and videos closely. Even though YOU may be appropriate in what you post, if your privacy settings allow it, other people can post anything they want and tag you in it. So, those closely guarded beach shots from last summer aren’t necessarily safe in your closet photo album – if someone else has one or two … well, you get the picture. ? Be sure to go into your “photos of” folder often and protect yourself – and your brand – from harm.

2) Avoid public controversy. That means: a) Do not post anything that’s too hot to share at the counter of your local diner. If it would enflame strangers and friends there, you can expect the same on Facebook; and b) Don’t forget that avoiding controversy also means not offending others. If you MUST disagree with someone or something, keep it in the inbox and NOT on a wall or a discussion.

3) Keep it clean. Clients and students are always asking me if they should have two Facebook profiles – one for personal use and one for public. My answer is almost always no. It’s confusing for those potential clients and friends who find the “wrong” profile and invite you – only to be ignored. It also adds a whole layer of work to what you do every day. It’s hard enough to manage a great social media presence without having to navigate TWO Facebook profiles. The way around this, if you MUST, is to have a private profile and a public fan page – but don’t use your Fan Page to “message” everyone at once – use your group for that. (More on that next week.)

Honestly, as long as you keep your language and demeanor “clean” and appropriate, who cares if your clients know it’s your birthday or if they see your sister ask you for your chicken pot pie recipe? Or if they see some of your personal life. *Everybody has to make their OWN decisions about this, but this is pretty much how I feel about it – after managing over 47 Facebook accounts for clients.

So how does my posting about my dad fit into this? While it didn’t break any of the three rules – it DID feel somewhat unprofessional to bleed sorrow for everyone to see. But It was so fast and easy to get my feelings out that way and to release them – and in some weird way, I felt like my dad could “hear” me. (Comments on THAT wacky idea are most welcome).

It’s worth mentioning that while I DID have 2 (out of 1,200+ friends) write to say they were worried I’d hurt my business – I also had HUNDREDS of connections write to offer love and support. Many shared their stories, and weirdly enough, two of those conversations turned into clients. CLIENTS?? Yep. Okay, you all know that I wasn’t LOOKING for clients that way. But the relationships that got built through those conversations led down a pathway of introductions and reciprocity. And like I’m always saying to those I mentor in my class, Social Media is all about relationships.

I’m not suggesting that you all run out and post your deepest and darkest on your profile wall – but I am amazed and touched to share that honesty, authenticity and vulnerability are something that will probably never work against us – even in such a public way. In fact, being that open seems to have engaged people in my life and work much more deeply. I do think that it’s partly because of my niche (writer) that I was able to BE that vulnerable AND have it tolerated and accepted by my connections – but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that even the MOST professional of niches could accommodate some serious risk taking when it comes to HOW we share WHO we are.

Mary Agnes Antonopoulos ~ Freelance Writer and Social Media Editor for WE Magazine. Contact her at ma@RockawayWriter.com

PS: Watch for our WE Online 20/20 Social Media Course beginning in September – A Course on Creating a REAL Social Media Strategy and ROI. The course is an affordable $597 and comes with two live Q&A sessions and one hour of PRIVATE coaching for each participant. HALF of the proceeds go to support WE Online. (See below)

TIRED of SPENDING a small FORTUNE on SEO and not seeing new business or clients come out of it? Does social media feel like you’re visiting a place where you don’t speak the language or know the rules? Offered by WE Social Media Editor, Mary Agnes Antonopoulos

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