How Do I Separate My Personal and Business Presence on Facebook?

One of the big concerns I often hear from direct sellers has to do with the boundary between personal and professional life on social networks, and especially Facebook.  After all, a lot of us have been using Facebook personally, prior to deciding to use it for business, and may have things on our profiles we just don’t want our business contacts to see.  Additionally, we have those “certain friends and family members” who aren’t necessarily appropriate all the time, and we CERTAINLY don’t want our business contacts to see that!

So does that mean we completely separate our business and personal presences on Facebook?

No!

Some ways people have approached this issue are these:

  1. Two Profiles: Sometimes people set up two different PROFILES on Facebook.  (If you don’t understand the difference between Profiles and Pages, read this.)  This is against Facebook Terms of Service for two reasons.  One, you’re not allowed to have more than one profile (even if you have more than one email address.)  Second, profiles aren’t supposed to be business presences.  So using a separate profile for your business exclusively is against Facebook rules.  If you are discovered, Facebook will shut down your account without warning.
  2. Personal Profile, Business Page: Some people decide to set up a Profile for personal use, and a Page for business use.  This is certainly an option for you, and some people have had success with it.  However I don’t believe that this is your best option.  When your business is confined to a Page, you only interact with people and build relationships with them if they come to your page.  This cuts off your ability to see what is going on in those people’s lives, and build relationships at a personal level.  Everything is confined to the business conversation.  And that’s not the most effective conversation if you want to build relationships with people, which is what direct selling is all about.  Add to this that it takes time to maintain an effective Page, and I feel like your time is better spent on booking, selling, and recruiting.

I don’t love either of these solutions.  Why?  Because you need to build relationships through social media if you’re going to be successful.  And that is best done through a profile.

“But wait, Jen!” you say.  “Didn’t you just say that Profiles aren’t supposed to be business presences?”

Yes, I did.  And a profile is NOT a business presence.  Instead, it’s a place where you interact with friends, family, AND prospects.  People get to know us when we share a little of our personal lives with them.  And we also get to see into the personal lives of others.  That’s how you build a relationship with people.

My beautiful children

Now it’s important to understand that I said PERSONAL and not PRIVATE.  Private information is information we don’t want the whole world to know.  That kind of information does not belong on ANY social network.  If you feel the need to share it with someone, call your real friends, or tell them over coffee.  PERSONAL information are those pieces of information that show us to be more than just salespeople.  So for example, I share photos of my kids (but not their names…that’s private.)  I share my love for cooking, and my favorite recipes.  I talk to people from high school, as well as from my church.  These are the ways that people get to see and know the real me.  And it helps them to enjoy doing business with me.

Some people attempt to navigate the Privacy settings within Facebook to keep their personal and business lives separate in Facebook.  This is not my favorite solution either.  Why?  Because we can mess those settings up.  My personal feeling is that the best policy is to ONLY share those things you are comfortable having the whole world know.  Then you won’t lose any sleep over messing up a setting, and you get the most exposure possible for your business.

“But what about my friend who always makes inappropriate remarks???” you cry! “I don’t want my friends to see them!”

It’s important to understand who sees what on Facebook, and this is a common source of confusion.  Here’s a post that describes who can see what your friends post on Facebook.

Facebook can be an excellent tool to facilitate the relationships that lead to additional business.  But there are strategic ways to use it that will bring you the greatest results.  I’ll be going into more ways to use Facebook effectively next week, but you can also learn more by clicking the “Facebook” category in the sidebar of this blog.

I would love to hear how you’re using Facebook to build your business.  Please share in the comments below!

6 Responses to How Do I Separate My Personal and Business Presence on Facebook?
  1. Graham
    July 26, 2011 | 7:40 am

    Jen, that was a good post. What I am not liking though about Facebook is that for those of use who want to keep our business and personal life separate on Facebook…. when using our profile for interaction in both spheres it doesn’t seem possible to keep them separate and I hate that. Look, I am happy to share everything about myself with the whole world, I don’t have anything to hide, but some people in my personal life don’t need to be having their news feeds fill up with my business activities and visa-versa. Is it possible to keep them separate? Or do I need to move everything to Google+? Facebook is terrible about providing explanations and how to do’s on their platform. Or is there a good place to get that kind of info?

  2. Lynne Baker
    April 16, 2010 | 2:53 pm

    Thanks Jen. As I navigate through this myself, I find myself using the hide key a little more, I use sending messages rather than posting to keep some things private, and stay a little more clear of political stances – not that I don’t share an occasional opinion, but I save those discussions for verbal, face-to-face so there is less room for misunderstandings.

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