I read Melissa Ford’s post on Blogher.com this morning about a young girl in the U.K. whose boss fired her in a post on her Facebook page. The title Why you should rethink friending your boss on Facebook, caught my eye because I struggle with how exactly to use Facebook all the time. In this case, the boss was clearly unprofessional, besides, it’s tacky to fire someone publicly …. aside from that, I think that you open yourself up to any number of similar scenarios simply by letting the lines blur in the first place.
I love Facebook for connecting me to the little boy down the street that threw a boulder on my head at the bus stop in first grade, for finding the high school boyfriend that didn’t have the balls to break up with me and just turned into an ass instead, for connecting me with the people at various stops on my journey.
Businesses use Facebook as another social channel for marketing and building relationships. I don’t particularly like it (but I help them use it cause it is a resource I can’t deny them). I feel protective of what Facebook is for me. I was involved in a conversation, nay debate, quite some time ago with James Andrews, @keyinfluencer. The discussion was focused around why I would try to keep Facebook “personal” and that I am Facebook friends with my mom, but that I would not involve my business relationships in my Facebook activity. James maintains that if I were truly authentic I would be the same on Facebook/”real life” as I would be in my business life and therefore keeping it separate is not necessary. I AGREE. 100%. In fact, the majority of my work now comes from people who seek me out primarily because of my social media presence/personality and they are fully aware of my no BS approach to things, so when I tell them their idea sucks, they listen to why instead of getting defensive and pissed off by my honesty. But do I have to share my family pictures, my weekends, my bad days with everyone I encounter in my business world? James would say, “Why not? Wouldn’t you want them to know you better by seeing who you are on the weekend? Wouldn’t that go further in building your relationship?” Well, YES. But…..
If a client or PR rep that I am doing work with sends a friend request I typically accept. We are in a current working relationship and I know them. I’m fortunate enough to work with people that I would consider friends….. it is the nature of social media. Not everyone can say that about their work or the people they work with and there have been times in my professional life where I would NEVER have opened my Facebook world to anyone I worked with. Opening up my comfortably small list of FB friends scares me. Right now my FB friends are a manageable number of connections that I have history with and I interact with most all of them on a regular basis. If I friend JoeShmoe, whom I met in passing at a conference, I may some day be able to reconnect and network etc, right? But isn’t that what Linked-In is for?
I like that I have thousands of twitter followers and I love the back and forth, the feedback, the fun of chatting with people in an environment that is at one moment silly/casual and at another moment sharing ideas, opinions, and resources. I like twitter for that – as a “micro-blogging” platform I consider it an extension of this blog. So then why would I not consider Facebook part of that extended package? Why do I have to? Isn’t there enough of me out there already? What’s one more piece of me going to mean to you?
I like compartments.
I like that I can use different social platforms for different purposes. You’ll never see my tweets on my FB updates – it would drive my FB friends insane… and I like them so I’m not going to do that. Not all of my friends “get”, nor want to “get”, all that I do. They “get” Facebook, as a means for looking up old high school friends, and sharing pictures etc. This is the FB I love and I want to keep it a safe place for the people in my life that fear, loathe, or are resistant to social media. For them it is a window into my world and it becomes a platform for me to do precisely what James Andrews says we must all do. Evangelize. I am a social media evangelist and Facebook is a sort of congregation for me. I can demonstrate the power of social media in a less noisy environment. The conversations and questions that I get from people are awesome. The curious stares turn into engagement in dialogue and finally, to understanding.
I posted a question on my Facebook page to see what my friends would say. I predict that the responses there will be widely different from the responses that would pop up here. In fact, so far they are quite interesting. I’ve even gotten several private messages… hmmm how authentic are those people? So tell me….
Do you “friend” your boss or co-workers on Facebook? Would you? Thoughts?