That Facebook Thing

Now I love Facebook; there’s not many days I don’t log on. Facebook is my life in pictures; it’s silly, inane comments that only my friends and family get; it’s me at my rawest: No facade, no show, just me. If you’re my Facebook friend and I’m having a bad day, then you’ll probably hear about it in rather passionate prose… But you know what; I don’t have very many Facebook friends! I won’t befriend anyone I haven’t met, anyone I don’t like, or anyone I think there’s even a remote chance I might work with. And anyone I do befriend gets immediately labelled with one of three privacy levels. It’s not that there’s anything remotely dodgy on there – maybe the odd drunken SingStar photo, or a choice expletive, but nothing condemning. My Mum and Dad are both on there after all! But I don’t want every man and his dog seeing pictures of my life, friends and family! That’s private stuff!

I appreciate that some people use Facebook for recruitment and business. Some with success too… but for me, Facebook is the personal social media tool of choice. LinkedIn is for business; Twitter is for a mix of business, personal branding and pleasure; and Facebook is purely personal. I don’t mind being advertised to on there but pretty please, with cherries and cream, don’t ask me to be your friend if you’re not actually my friend!

I’m totally intrigued about how other people use Facebook though. So many people I know have hundreds of ‘friends’! To what end? And if you use it for business and pleasure then how do you keep the two separate? Do you have separate accounts, a raft of different privacy settings, or do you just keep it clean and not overly personal?

Please share your experiences; I would love to hear them!


20 Responses to “That Facebook Thing”

  1. 1 mark December 13, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    i have a few hundred friends on facebook, including friends, family and people i have worked with or might work with. no one can see photos/videos of me, apart from my profile pictures – i like to control that kind of information. but everything i say can be viewed by any of my friends. i’d hate to think that i need to hide anything i have to say.

    • 2 Wendy December 17, 2009 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks for your comments, Mark. I don’t even have a few hundred friends – I think I’m still well within the 200 threshold! In fact, I rarely search for anyone myself – instead I wait until they find me and then I often wish they hadn’t because I struggle to say no politely… not to mention the fact I do quite fancy a nosey at their profile! 😉

      But you’re right of course – I’d hate to think I need to hide anything I have to say either. And on Twitter I happily write all sorts of personal nonsense! But then I know that’s a public forum and FB to me always feels as though it’s sort of hallowed ground – just for my own little circle of family and friends…

      Thanks again!


  2. 3 Sara Headworth December 13, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Great Blog Wendy !!
    I have to agree with you in that I use Facebook as a totally personal thing and only “friend” people I know or a couple of “Headworths” in USA that could be distant relatives . . . . but on the other hand I have another Facebook account for Worthing Crocman – and he’s not fussy !! He befriends anyone ( LOL ) , but I use that account to raise publicity for the Crocmans money raising antics – any money we can raise by any means is VERY welcome !!

    • 4 Wendy December 17, 2009 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks for your comments Sara!

      So how does the Crocman decide who to befriend? Do you track people down or just wait for people to find you? I must confess, there are some exceptions to my FB rules. I was facebook friends with Callum (see further down the comments!) before I’d ever met him in person. But somehow that didn’t feel odd!

  3. 5 @HRMargo Margo Rose December 13, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Funny that you mention it Wendy, I just started adding a select few of my twitter colleagues to my facebook page. You are correct, we must do so very carefully. However, with that said, with the new privacy settings you can safely add anyone. You can make your pictures and friends blind to anyone but you. You can make it so that no one can see what you post on other people’s walls. You can select who sees what status update. The new facebook privacy settings have dramatically improved in the past year. Gone are the days where everyone can see everything. You can even make it so that those annoying photo tags are not seen by anyone but you.

    What strikes me a bit odd is how recruiters are jumping on the facebook bandwagon. When this trend emerged, I thought, “well this is an invasion of privacy.” But, really it’s not. It serves as a lesson to us all: never put anything in print that you wouldn’t want to read in the newspaper the following day. We have to do a better job of image management online. I for one, have learned this lesson the hard way recently.

    It takes discipline to resist the temptation to restrain tongue and pen. But, do so we must, or we risk looking like a bafoon. My coveted facebook friends are comprised primarily of my friends from grade school, high school and college. I have created lists where I can follow their threads.

    The new trend of businesses using facebook to solidify their brand is clever. So long as we remember that Facebook is the neighborhood party, linkedin is the office party, and twitter is the conference call, we can keep the modalities in their proper perspective.

    Great post Wendy.

    Your twitterpal,

    @HRMargo Margo Rose

    • 6 Wendy December 17, 2009 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks for your comments Margo!

      The Facebook privacy settings actually rather irritate me. I’ve been rather on the ball with my privacy since the word go but they are constantly changing the system and I have review again and again who is able to see what. Really I think the default should be that only your friends can see anything that goes on with your page unless you state otherwise, but for reasons unbeknownst to me, the default setting seems to be to allow everyone to see everything!

      I agree that “It takes discipline to resist the temptation to restrain tongue and pen” but that’s kind of what I like about Facebook – I don’t have to use any restraint if I don’t want to because the only people I’m friends with are those who know me! If I want to drop an F-bomb (which I would never do because my mother is on there!) then that would be the one forum I would consider doing it on. So to me, I think the recruiting and more general networking trend is a little invasive. Surely we should have somewhere private we’re able to go to let off steam and talk nonsense with our friends?

      Using FB to solidify a business brand IS clever and will suit some people down to the ground, but I don’t feel it’s for me. Not yet at least. Though I concede I may be being a little oldfashioned with my opinions here!

      Thanks again!


  4. 7 Paul Anderson December 14, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I’m exactly the same, Linked in is my corporate face, twitter is for my inane comments that I don’t mind other business / clients / friends / work colleagues seeing.
    Facebook is my history, my friends, family, very personal, where I can be rude, caring, loving, ‘orrid. occasionaly drunk!
    I have absolutely no interest in sharing that information with anyone other than the ones who know me and know me reasonably well.
    I get lots of requests from people I have worked for and with, I always refer them back to twitter or Linked in.
    Facebook is definitely NOT my professional space, its my personal space where I can escape!!
    Great article.

    • 8 Wendy December 17, 2009 at 9:46 pm

      Good on you for standing my your decision, Paul! My biggest problem is that I always find it difficult to say no to friend requests. I do have a privacy level that reveals very little but, frankly, it still feels like too much really. I should be stronger!

      Thanks for your comments! 🙂

  5. 9 Callum December 14, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Wendy; you’ve hit the nail on the head with this topic. The ‘Facebook Question’ is one that has become increasingly prevalent in today’s digital landscape. Facebook used to *be* social media – now that we have an array of online channels through which to communicate, the role of Facebook needs to be reassessed and define its place in social media once again.

    For readers of this blog, I am not in HR or a recruiter, but run the marketing function for a marketing recruitment firm, so may be able to proffer a unique opinion. Over the past year, the Stopgap Group has implemented a dedicated social media strategy that comprises Twitter accounts and a thriving LinkedIn group, the Marketing Professionals Network.

    The ‘Facebook Question’ has reared its head on many occasions over the past twelve months. Many bloggers claim (validly so) that Facebook is the world’s largest social network and therefore a ‘must’ for any discerning digital marketer. Recruiters may be singing the praises of LinkedIn, but it’s Facebook that genuinely has a colossal reach.

    But does quantity necessarily equate to quality? Although Facebook has introduced a multitude of features in recent years, it remains in public perception (and I include myself in this) a very ‘personal’ networking site. Our social media personas are all ‘personal brands’, making it crucial to choose the right channels when seeking to connect professionally – and it’s this area that LinkedIn has cornered.

    Facebook is slowly gaining more credibility in the business sector, but for many marketers, it remains a brand that connotes personal life, friendship and life away from work. For this reason, I remain firm in my conviction that Facebook is not the right place to market my company’s brand – for the time being.

  6. 11 Sarah Nguyen December 14, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Margo’s analogy is great “Facebook is the neighborhood party, linkedin is the office party, and twitter is the conference call.” With social media, I think it’s all too easy to cross the line between business and personal use.

    Some people do use FaceBook in recruitment with success. Ernst and Young in Australia have successfully used FaceBook to target and engage with their graduate candidates – their FaceBook site is the top draffic driver to their grad careers page. On FB, staff apparently use their personal accounts with privacy settings in place. I think the key in deciding whether using FaceBook in a business setting (like with any form of social media), is the context and whether your target audience use that particular channel to communicate.

    I personally am not on FaceBook as I like my privacy a little too much and am still not convinced its privacy settings are solid (e.g. you can have photos restricted to be viewable by friends, but if a friend tags someone outside of your network, that person’s friends can view the photo). Of course with the change in their settings, this may have changed.

    • 12 Wendy December 17, 2009 at 9:35 pm

      Thanks for your comments Sarah – I know exactly what you mean about the privacy issues. My hubby (though far from being a technophobe) is not on any of the social media networks. But you know what – his photo sure is! Aside from the millions of photos I’ve put up (which are quite closely guarded on the privacy front) there are also loads that my friends and his friends have posted. But, IMHO, I personally think he’d be better to be on it in some respects as at least he could see the majority of what people were posting about him then, if there’s something really awful, ask the poster to take it down, etc.

      I agree though – it is all to easy to cross the line between business and personal use, but then I do think that’s also part of the charm of it. Ernst & Young sounds like a great example of successful FB use for business though – I’ll definitely have to find out some more about that.

  7. 13 AlasdairDMurray December 14, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    I wrote something very recently about how I use various social media. I agree with you re Facebook, it’s strictly family and friends. I didn’t mention Linkedin as to me it’s not so much social media, more business networking, well for me at least.

    • 14 Wendy December 17, 2009 at 9:27 pm

      Great post Alasdair – LOVE the cosy chat with a friend analogy. So true!
      Interesting the way you have differentiated LI from social media too – I feel the same way about it in the same way now you come to mention it.
      Thanks for your comments.

  8. 15 Allen December 16, 2009 at 12:46 am

    I like the way you put that! haha it’s sooo true.

    I have over 1000 friends on Facebook, almost 200 on LinkedIn, and have only recently been following people on Twitter. Althought it seems as if I have a lot of “friends”, I only share certain information on it. I accept MOST invitations on each Social Media networking sites.

    I did sports when I was younger, and was pretty good, and due to the exposure I received from all that, I met a lot of people.

    Almost all on my friends list on FB are from both college and high school, and are people or networking individuals that I have personally investigated to some extent.

    I like how Wendy put it “at my rawest” because in the beginning that’s what it was! Now everyone can personalize what is visible, so only my friends are the ones who can actually see the crazy pictures of late night debauchery around the country!

    I mean there isn’t really anything illegal or ill-mannered, but in almost every picture I just so happen to have an alcoholic beverage!!

    Twitter is growing so exponentially though because it really is the “conference” of the two!! … this brings me to another thing… NO ONE IS ON MYSPACE ANYMORE!!!

    (Excellent thread)

    • 16 Wendy December 17, 2009 at 9:22 pm

      Myspace?! What’s Myspace? 😉

      Thanks for your comments! 1000 friends is amazing! I’m not even at 200 yet! Loser, huh! 😉 I’ve actually been reviewing my privacy settings again this week because I’ve decided to try being slightly less choosy about who I’ll befriend. You know what though – I feel really restrained now! Even though I have protected loads of information I feel a little bit as though there’s someone spying on me from the bushes, seeing what I’m up to! So I think that’ll be the end of that little experiment thankyouverymuch!

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Over ten years’ recruitment, employability, HR and sales experience in both the private and public sectors. I've worked in construction recruitment, FMCG headhunting, and in higher education on the employability agenda.

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