4 Steps to Facebook Privacy

Did you know that you can select what groups of people can view different parts of your Facebook profile? By using listing and customized settings, you can help keep your professional life and personal life separate.

At a recent event, I ran into several people who expressed apprehension when it comes to getting involved in Facebook professionally. What if the wrong person sees the wrong thing? How can I keep my personal and professional life separate? While, it’s not possible to plan for every contingency, there are ways to ensure that your information is protected. Here are a steps you can take to sure you have good Facebook hygiene.

1)    Set Lists. Before we even talk about privacy settings, make lists of your different kinds of friends. For example, my lists are: Personal Friends, Family, Co-Workers, NCRA Networking, and ASAE Networking. Be sure to create at least one list for people you only want to interact with professionally.  By making these lists, you will enable yourself to create personal privacy settings. Too create a list:

  • a.    From your “Home” tab, click on the “Friends” link on the right hand menu.
  • b.    Then, click the “Edit Friends” button that appears at the top of the page.
  • c.    Click “Create List” at the top of the next page.
  • d.    Enter the name of your list and select the people who belong to that category.

2)   Use Customized Privacy Settings. Once you have created your lists, you are now ready to customize your privacy settings. Based on the lists you created, you can allow different levels of access to different groups of people. To do this:

  • a.    Click on the “Account” button in the upper right-hand corner of your Facebook homepage and scroll down to “Privacy Settings.” You will then see a basic matrix of what parts of your profile are available to the public as well as different general groups of people.
  • b.   Click on the “Customize Settings” link at the bottom of the chart.
  • c.    You will then see each element of your profile listed with a drop down menu. You may use the default settings “friends, friends of friends, etc.” Or, you may choose to allow only certain lists view this information. Click on the drop-down menu, and scroll to “custom.”
  • d.    You will then see an option to make this section of your profile visible to only certain groups. To select a specific list you created in section 1, simply type in the name of the list. Once you have done this, only the people you selected to be members of this list will see this information.
  • e.    If you only want to hide information from specific people, you can list them out individually in the “hide this from” section. However, I have found it easier to simply use listing.

3)    When someone friends you, add them to a list. When you create a new friendship on Facebook, you have the option to add them to one of your pre-created lists. Once you have this system in place, you can vet all new contacts and add them to their appropriate location.

4)    Use Common Sense. Just because you’ve created these lists, doesn’t mean that you now have a blank check to post photos of yourself doing tequila shooters without anyone knowing. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but my philosophy is never to post anything that I wouldn’t mind either my boss or grandmother seeing.

My only disclaimer with any of these steps is that Facebook has a tendency to change its layout from time to time, so the exact order of these steps may change. However, they are usually found in the same general area.

Getting Started in Social Media

As someone who eats, sleeps, and breathes social media, I often forget that there are those out there just testing the waters. Here are some tips to find where to begin.

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from those starting out in social media. In particular, I received a message through LinkedIn that asked me the following:

Hi Sara –  If you could point me to any of resources regarding getting up to speed on the following, it would be very much appreciated:

1. How to use Twitter.
2. Creating good content for blogging.
3. How to start a blog.
4. Basic understanding of SEO

I could have written a book on each, but that would have not only been overwhelming, but I’d likely still be writing a response. Instead I wrote back with some quick bullets and resources to help my enthusiastic LinkedIn connection. So, since this has been a reoccurring question, I thought I’d also post a paraphrase of my response here. To those of you just beginning your endeavor into social media, I hope you find it helpful!

1. How to use Twitter.
Twitter is one of those things that makes sense after you do it for awhile. Start by creating an account on Twitter; then start following other people in the industry. If you are looking for handles to follow, you can find people by using http://www.twellow.com or http://www.wefollow.com . Also, here is an article you may find helpful. It’s from Mashable.com, and provides 7 online tutorials for getting started: Twitter Tutorials from Mashable.

2. Creating good content for blogging.
My general advice is to provide your own take on your industry. What do you have to say that no one else is saying? Don’t be afraid to give your own opinion, be honest, and keep it short. Blogging is more about engaging with your community than it is about advertising your services. There are a lot of resources out there to help you get started. Here are a few:
ProBlogger – Writing Great Content
UnMarketing on Good Blogging

3. How to start a blog.
The two biggest sites are Blogger and WordPress. I myself prefer WordPress because it is more user-friendly. All of you have to do is visit the site, create an account, and then start posting. It is a fairly straight-forward platform. However, if you are doing this for your business, you want to think about the blog in the context of your company’s branding. For tips on how to go about this, here are some references that might help you:

WikiHow Starting a Blog
ProBlogger – Starting Your First Blog

4. Basic understanding of SEO.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is essentially knowing how search engine algorithms work, and using this knowledge to make sure that your website shows up at the top of the list when someone searches for topics related to you. Done properly, it can be like having free advertising. This can get very complicated, but here are some resources that can get you started:

Jeff Bullas – SEO Master
Mashable SEO Tips

There is a great deal of information out there, and it can feel overwhelming at times. My advice is to start small – over time, it will all fall into place.