There was a time when I had something like 5000 friends on Facebook. I mean, 5000 friends are like a quartier or a village and the meaning of “friends” was really overrated. Then, suddenly, I’ve decided to delete most of them and start from scratch, again, giving my Facebook profile a different reason to exist and now I’ve less than 500 friends which is not a small number but it’s definitely better than 5000.
Why did I make this move? And, most of all, why did I make this move considering I work in the social media industry and I should prove my identity on social media all the time? The reason is simple: every social media has its own identity and every person should use the different media according to this identity.
Linkedin is, for me (but I believe not only for me!), a career oriented social media, the one I browse when I want to be challenged in my daily career routine, when I need a job, when I need to hire someone or when I need professional advices; I don’t go on Linkedin for finding friends but for finding professionals interested in chatting about work, doing network and so on.
Twitter is the middle ground, it’s the social media I use both for personal and professional reasons and no wonder why I love it so much: it allows me to be funny or professional according to the situation and it always gives me a good view of what’s happening in the world I’ve chosen to follow.
In this panorama Facebook is a personal social media, at least for me and when it comes to personal profiles: my profile is accessible only to my friends, my relatives and people I work or I’ve worked in the past and with which I have established different relations rather than just the professional ones.
I’ve a FB page and that’s the place where everyone can add me as a blogger but my profile is my profile and keeping a low one allows me to decide my stream of information, what to say to who and why (while on Twitter my “stream of consciousness” is way too free to reach thousands of people!)
I could create lists of people, someone could suggest, but what’s the point? What’s the point in having thousands of fake friends, people you maybe don’t even know, and then hide your things from them? I prefer the famous “less is more” on Facebook and this is also less risky for me in terms of privacy. And, just not to be shy, it’s also the only way I have not to hate Facebook!
Can be this behavior considered snob? Sure it can but I’m happy with that and since I like to share things these are my tips for a better relation with Facebook and with yourself on social media:
1. Be friend with people you want to be friends with
There’s no reason to “friend” a person you don’t know or a person you would never meet for a coffee or even say hello on the street! Friend is a precious word, don’t use it inappropriately… also online!
2. Personal and professional life have to be separated
If you work with people you’re friend with, you probably feel comfortable in sharing with them your things on Facebook (I do with some of them and I’m happy about that because my professional person is not different from the real me). But why do you need to become friend with your colleagues if you don’t want and don’t have any relationship with them outside work? The way I see Facebook is simple: a friendly zone where you feel comfortable in sharing your personal things and asking advices. The Facebook pages are different but profiles have to be used accordingly even if we’re worried that declining the request from our co-workers would ruin our professional relationship with these people (sometimes accepting is even worse!)
3. Don’t hide, just de-friend
As explained above, if you don’t want to show your things to people you’ve on Facebook why do you want their friendship? Hide things from your “friends” can sound like a smart plan but think about it from a social point of view: it’s like when you have to stay in the same place with someone you don’t really like but you force yourself in the experience just to say “I did it, I’m a good person”. Internet has a big power: make us free to choose how to behave and sometimes we can behave even better than in real life.
4. Use your privacy settings at your advantage
Privacy is one of the best thing in Facebook. You can decide the level of things people outside of your group can see, if they can find you or not. Play carefully with these settings because it can change your life. My privacy is set very high for a choice and for the above reasons and this prevent me and other people to indulge too much in my life.
There’s obviously not just one unique way to use Facebook and social media but the possibility to play accordingly to the medium, to the message you want to give, to your reputation or the one you want to build is, for me, is one of the best thing the Web offer to us.
The experience of being on Facebook (and all social media, indeed) needs to be enjoyable and maybe rethinking the way we use this medium could be a great start. It’s been, for me…