The silly season is upon us and I’ve noticed recently that I’m getting a number of friend requests on Facebook from people who are planning to run in the local civic elections. You, too? It’s time to take back your newsfeed.
It has become common on Facebook to get friend requests from people you don’t know. Many businesses are using Facebook to market products and services. Strictly speaking, that’s what the Facebook business Page is for, but due to the way that Facebook’s algorithm governs and restricts what gets seen in personal newsfeeds, many businesses are friending strangers, or slight acquaintances as a way to build their lists and gain access to greater market share. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this practice. I think it borders on spamminess, and at the same time I understand the strategic reasons businesses use it as a tactic.
In particular, if you are a personal brand, mixing up your marketing efforts and using your personal profile to cross-promote what you’re up to in your business can be a good strategy. I also tend to take a holistic position when it comes to business and personal life, favoring integration over separation. I think it’s a fine line and it’s important to know when it’s being crossed.
A good question to ask yourself, when you are being friended by someone you haven’t met, or whom you only know professionally, is: Why are they friending me? The answer to that question will probably give you some clarity as to their likely intent and you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to play.
One problem with people friending on the personal Profile for marketing purposes is that if I agree to be friends with them, not only can they see my posts but also I end up seeing nearly all their posts. These are often annoying, because they are really about selling and not really about building relationships, and if I don’t know the person, the kind of personal content they post is of little interest to me anyway.
If you notice someone that you have agreed to friend, but haven’t actually met, engaging in lots of conversations with you and your friends, tagging posts to your personal Timeline and posting significantly more content than you are used to seeing from others, chances are they’re marketing to you. It’s subtle, but it’s spammy.
Having said that, it really is a matter of individual preference as to whom you agree to be friends with on Facebook. Because you can set your privacy settings on your personal profile, you can control who sees what you post.
A way around agreeing to friend people you don’t know, is to enable ‘following’ on your personal profile. You find this in your settings. This allows people to follow your personal profile, but they will only see what you post using the public setting, and you won’t see their posts.
There is also a dandy little feature in Facebook called Customized Lists, which enables you to group or categorize people you are friends with and then choose to post only to those lists, or look only at those feeds. Facebook offers a number of default lists such as Close Friends, Acquaintances, and even a Restricted category. This list is for people you’ve added as a friend but just don’t want to share with, for example your boss or your kids. When you add a friend to your Restricted list, they only see your public posts or posts of yours that you tag them in.
You can also create lists based on personal categories. For example, I have lists called Family, Maple Ridge Biz Peeps, Coaching Clients and so on.
I also have one called Candidates. Time to dust if off. See you at the ballot box.