Is your Facebook Focus Privacy or Publicity?

What IS Facebook? According to the homepage, “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.” But how aggressively or personally are you connecting and sharing? Is your personal approach to Facebook one of privacy or publicity? Have you ever considered the impact of your online engagement?

highlightsThe highlights sidebar on Facebook shows items of interest by friends; pages they’re fans of, photo albums they’ve been tagged in, groups they’ve joined. These highlights are showcased seemingly at random from Facebook.. unless of course you’ve changed your Facebook privacy settings.

In order to increase “engagement”, many of the actions you take on the social network are broadcast to your friends, either showing up in their News Feed or within the Highlights bar. But do you want all your friends and networks knowing that you made a sarcastic response to something posted by a friend, or see those pictures taken of you at the beach?

Thankfully, Facebook has quite granular privacy settings (although I still prefer the Livejournal model), and you can decide what actions get shared with your friends.

What is your goal for your Facebook presence

It sounds a bit silly, but why are you on Facebook; what do you hope to achieve? Recently at work we did an informal study on how actions on Facebook influence others within a trusted network. We looked at how active and passive engagement with a Facebook page impacted the popularity of said page. One variable is how individuals set up their privacy settings. I have my setting such that very few of my actions surface on the News Feed of my friends:


As a result, my engagement with the page was NOT broadcast to my friends, and therefore I wasn’t a great source of promotion.

What is ‘success’ in social media / personal branding?

For many, success on Twitter is measured by the number of followers or the amount of retweets. We view these as indirect and direct indicators of influence.

The question must be asked if simple regurgitation of a message is what we wish to achieve. If ‘raising awareness’ is our objective, that’s fine. If, however, we wish to foster a community of passionate followers, we may need to be more selective in the amount of information we’re pushing out so as to cultivate a strong relationship. We all know the power of referral. Arguably this entire model on Facebook of surfacing what friends are doing and liking is based on referral. But is a personal referral not more effective than a blanket “others like you may also like” statement? People respond well to solicitations for advice or guidance, not blatant self-promotion.

This of course raises an interesting consideration: are we ‘spamming’ our Facebook friends with our frequent updates and actions on the site? We’re likely not doing them for blatant self-promotional reasons, but at the same time we’re subjecting them to a tide of information in which they may not be interested.

Yes, perhaps this is far too much consideration for a silly social networking site, but if you do wish to be influential or solicit useful feedback from your network, you may be well off to consider changing your privacy settings to ensure you’re only providing your network with information you AND they wish to have disseminated.

11 thoughts on “Is your Facebook Focus Privacy or Publicity?

  • Which returns to the question of what your objective is – a few close friends or a broader network? I know you pruned your twitter network, so you obviously fall on the site of fewer, stronger, relationships.

    I tend to go to the other extreme: I’m very aware of catering my message to my audience and before I post a quiz result I think about whether or not it offers any value to my readers… if not, I don’t bother sharing.

  • I see. So, if you posted something to your Facebook stream and someone commented or messaged you as a direct result with an offer for this or that, where you could potentially be promoted or hired or offered a consulting gig… you’d say no because you don’t want to use Facebook to make money?

    Sorry, I don’t buy that.

  • I wouldn’t say no, but it’s not a primary objective. It is only recently that I started opening Facebook up to what I consider more “professional” connections.

    Do I really think my clients are interested in roller derby? Not so much.. that’s why I have two blogs and two twitter accounts.. I don’t have that segregation on Facebook, so I at least try to spam them less than in the other “opt-in” channels.

  • Hey Ari, I’m very interested in how you mentioned this conversation on twitter:

    Interesting commenting between me and @afhill at — I argue my objective is to make money, but she won’t use Facebook?

    I think that’s an entirely different topic! The notion of an overall objective and selecting the appropriate SM channels, vs having an objective for each individual SM service. My primary use of Facebook is personal connection.. yes, ultimately that may lead to business, but I wouldn’t say that my use of Facebook was unsuccessful if I did not see business come of it. I contrast that with my Twitter use: I very rarely engage in chitter-chatter that is not related to my (however broad) industry on my @afhill account. Different audiences, different primary purposes.

    thanks for your comments, by the way! I do appreciate it – it’s great to actually have some conversation going; it enhances the original post!

  • What’s a professional Facebook connection? The same co-workers who bring their financees and spouses to the annual holiday party?

    The line between social and professional is a blur. Who’s to say your best friend–or that long long high school classmate–doesn’t spit an idea back at you after you post a status update? Aren’t you cheating yourself by assuming ideas only come from quote-unquote “professional” connections?

    And how do you know your clients aren’t interested in roller derby? If your boss can drink you under the table at the holiday party, your client might be a former roller derby champion. Until you blur the line, though, you–and the client–will never know.

  • Interesting conversation. I do think you need to draw the line somewhere between professional and social contacts. If you spam all your social contacts, a lot of them just won’t want the be your friend. I’m sure a lot of you have had the friend who over-pushes some pyramid scheme or affiliate product…things like amway, avon, etc. If these people are truly your friends, they shouldn’t be trying to exploit you to make money. Of course there is an acceptable amount of pitching that you can use with friends. You just have to find the right balance that is acceptable with your social circle.

  • Through out my time in social media. I have learned to adapt to my market if I was going to refer someone to a website or blog. Personally, I don’t refer to my close friends, but I may refer to my targeted list of people who want to know anything about what I have. With that said….If I’m branding my name then I wouldn’t mind telling my close friends about it because it doesn’t look like I’m pushing them anything.

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