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?
The 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.