When Facebook was first launched, and geeks like myself raced to join, it really was a free-for-all. Invitations to connect were sent out like crazy because it was new. The name of the game was to find everyone you knew, and ‘friend’ them so that you could share. In many ways, social hasn’t changed that much in the last seven years.
My first Facebook account rose quickly to 1,700 people. Family, friends and creative writers around the world were included on my page. As a divorced, single woman I was also very active in virtual communities and online debate forums, and so those people found themselves connected to my page as well. And I felt kind of excited by the crowd I had amassed, mixing my personal life with my promotional needs as well, as a subcontract freelance professional.
I grew to hate my feed for a number of reasons. People I “knew of” but didn’t really know were flooding my Facebook wall with stuff that was off color, angry or frankly embarrassing. Everyone has the right to share what they like, but crude content, grotesque stuff or endless angry political debate was not my flavor. And my wall was full of it.
Then one day, an individual I barely knew (except through virtual worlds) made a creepy comment. “Is that your niece or daughter? She’s so very pretty” and my blood ran cold. He was banned from my page in a nanosecond and within a week, I started my business page on Facebook and a new page for my personal life.
It is not uncommon to still see people leveraging their personal life to promote themselves, or their business. Facebook is a powerful tool for online networking, and by sharing your fabulous business and private life, you may gather the kind of audience that refers work to you, or connects you to new opportunities. And if that is your style, and it is a successful method for self and career promotion, that’s awesome. I prefer to segment my work and personal life.
This morning I ‘audited’ my personal Facebook account. Rather than offend anyone (and I hope I didn’t) I sent some individuals a private message that indicated my personal preference for my very personal Facebook account. It is where my friends and family live, and a few people who have actively been part of my personal or professional life for years. People I have talked to regularly… people who are engaged in my professional or private life.
Spending every day managing the social persona’s for businesses around the world, and sharing on a number of other social channels, I feel a sense of quiet relief when I get to my own personal Facebook page. It is full of people I am related to by history and years of shared experiences. It is full of people who share posts that I enjoy reading and commenting on, and likewise, they are engaged in reading and participating in my comments, pictures and experiences.
I am guilty of not wanting to offend… and accepting Facebook requests politely, but that creates an environment I do not want. One where I feel apprehensive to share my personal thoughts. That’s not the personal daily Facebook experience I want for myself, when I use the social network to stay in touch with friends and family who now live very far away… I am more active on Facebook to stay engaged in their lives because I love (and miss) them.
Celebrities and professional business people have multiple accounts (believe it or not). And they keep their private accounts on the “down low” for the same reason. My business posts are available on a business Facebook page, and I am very professionally active networking on LinkedIn daily. My Twitter is a mish-mash of business and daily life (but that’s how I like it), while my Google+ account leans more toward marketing and brand management, with some artistic and literary posts and sharing. Instagram is a little personal but I am not committed to using it for business purposes, so I am okay with that.
And then of course there is this blog where it get’s very personal, for the people who find my sharing entertaining or meaningful. For me it’s a diary and I am always flattered and surprised when people read or comment on my posts. And ingratiated, deeply.
My business is built on quality content writing, affordable pricing, and intuitively good online marketing instincts. My work sells itself and I am often referred by clients to new work. The type of marketing I do not have to engage in, is putting my physical appearance on stage, nor do I have to tout a lifestyle to promote myself. Just a normal lady, married with children, building a life and designing her work day around writing and creative marketing. I aspire to be me, I don’t have aspirations to inspire anyone else to be like me.
Let’s be real… I can’t cook worth @!#$ and have zero fashion sense. But I am definitely not “selling” anything to anyone on my personal Facebook page. And given what I do daily, it is a sanctuary for me to share there in a creative, social way without the brand/business conventions I work with constantly. I can just be me with the people I care about, and free to express myself without business “filters”.
I feel bad right now though because I don’t want to anger or upset anyone. I’ll make sure I am more honest when receiving friendship requests on my personal Facebook account in the future. If you are one of those people, this blog post was to help make you (and I) understand more clearly. It’s not personal, but the lack of personal… and we can share elsewhere, but not on my family Facebook channel.
Intimacy matters. In an age of social sharing, probably even more now than ever. And I love my little walled garden on Facebook, one small little corner of the digital marketing world that isn’t about marketing at all. It’s about love, memories and family.