This excerpt is from the Rough Cuts version of the book and may not represent the final version of this material.
A corporation can develop a strong presence on Facebook in multiple ways. If you are an executive within a corporation, you might question why any company would want a presence on a social network that seems so personal in nature. If you don’t want to fish in a pond that is packed with approximately 800,000 new fish every single day, then have fun somewhere else. We, of course, say that with some sarcasm. We do understand that some companies resist using Facebook for business purposes.
Personal or Professional?
Facebook was, for much of its history, seen as an exclusively personal social network. On Facebook you can let your hair down a little and interact with your college buddies, family, and close friends. You share pictures and videos from recent vacations or of your baby’s first steps. You post your personal opinions on random topics such as your favorite pizza toppings or who/what is annoying you today.
If you wanted to do any business networking, there was LinkedIn. On LinkedIn you can input your resume, get recommendations, and set up a Group around your company, product, service, or industry and several other business-related activities.
The problem here is that Facebook is growing at such a fast pace that you can’t ignore it. And more and more professionals are networking via Facebook as well.
Some companies allow their employees Internet access LinkedIn from work, but deny access to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.
You may be wondering why we’re even talking about personal versus professional personas. Doesn’t everyone keep their personal and professional lives separate? You’re a different person on the weekends around your family and friends than you are when sitting across the boardroom from your boss, customers, or vendors. Right?
We understand the hesitation as to whether you should blend your personal and professional lives. Some people, the authors of this book included, have decided that everything we do is our life. We don’t distinguish, for the most part, between a personal and professional life. Justin wants his business partners to know his personal interests in the Red Sox, Jay-Z, gadgets, and everything else that he’s a fan of or has an interest in. People from both his personal and professional lives can see pictures from his wedding or his recent vacation. For him, it translates into a lot of business. Brian treats Facebook similarly.
People can establish a 360-degree view of who Justin is. They can get to know him as an individual before ever meeting at a networking event or having a conference call about a potential partnership.
With this approach, we can all interact on a personal level that might lead to a professional relationship. After all, at our professional core, we prefer to do business with friends. We trust our friends and hope that our friends trust us. We would never want to do anything to disappoint them, endanger, or hurt our friends. Therefore, we tend to work harder when we do business with friends. It’s usually more enjoyable and easier as well. Facebook provides the perfect opportunity to mesh friendships and business.
There are also generational differences here. Generation X prefers less of a professional vs personal boundary than Boomers do, and Gen Y is even more social and open than Gen X. Judgments from one generation to another aside, these are important differences we need to understand when we market and network to different age groups.
This blending of personal and professional also helps to develop a strong community, real friends, and interesting conversations. Not everyone feels comfortable with, or has the ability, to meld their personal and professional lives. But, even if you don’t want to cross these two areas of your lifestyle with one another, and you prefer to keep Facebook personal and LinkedIn professional, you still should consider establishing a corporate presence.
Note that Facebook’s guidelines suggest you do business mainly via Pages, not profiles. If you’ve previously set up your business as a profile, you can now convert it into a Page. A warning before you do: your friends will become fans, but none of your content with survive the transition- that includes all your photos, videos and posts. Also, your vanity URL, or username, does not convert, and the old URL will no longer work.