Social Networking: Nothing Personal

I'm a fan of social media. I think it's fun connecting with long lost friends via sites like Facebook and Linked In as well as keeping up with buddies from high school and distant relatives. I remember when I first setup my Facebook account, my goal was to only "friend" people that I actually knew. I was looking at Facebook as being "personal" and sites like Twitter and LinkedIn being for business. Unfortunately this strategy didn't last very long at all. My Facebook inbox was inundated with friend requests from fans, people that I may have met once at an event and other total strangers that may have been friends of friends. At first I just ignored them until I could figure out what to do.

The problem with sites like Facebook is that if you decline a friend request, there's no ability to tell the person why you're declining their request. So you end up with potential "friends" that will have hurt feelings. If I could have had an automated response that says something like, "thanks for the friend request, but I'm using this account to connect with close friends and family. Please see my Facebook Fan page here", then I would have done that in a heartbeat. Once the request piled up to a point that I could no longer ignore them, I finally gave in and decided that my Facebook account can't be used for personal stuff. So I let everyone in. I decided that I would keep the personal information to a minimum and not post family pictures and not give my exact whereabouts in real-time (sometimes the latter can't be avoided for big events). I had suggestions from others that I should setup another account with a fake name and picture so that no one would know it's me and then I could interact with close friends and family in a more personal manner, but that just didn't feel right

I don't really care what you're doing

Don't get me wrong, if I know you then I probably have an interest in your day to day activities if nothing else just for the occasional smile when I read a funny status update or see a cool pic. However, if you're a total stranger I could care less what you're doing and I'm sure the same goes for you about me. So I found myself using Facebook less and less because I didn't want to have to sift through the status updates of hundreds of strangers to see the ones from people I actually knew.

Then along came lists

One of my favorite Facebook features is called "Lists". The lists feature allows you to put your "friends" on various lists and then use those lists throughout the site to filter out the information (noise) that you don't want to see. The first list I created was called "People I actually know". The list is self-explanatory. I added all the people that were my Facebook (FB) friends to it that I actually know. Then I simply filtered the status updates to that list so that I'm not seeing hundreds or thousands of updates from total strangers. This helped quite a bit, but didn't solve everything thing.

I don't want to chat with you

Well actually it's more like I don't have time to chat with you. FB has an Instant Message feature that when "friends" see you online they can popup a chat message and you can chat back. This is cool when I have the time, but in most cases my FB browser window is in the background and then people were getting pissed off thinking I was ignoring them. So I created a list called "Chat" and that list has less than 10 friends on it. Those are the few people that I will stop doing what I'm doing to chat with. Otherwise send me an email or call me. If you are a close friend or family member, you already have my number. I was thrilled when I figured out that you can limit the chat feature to a list(s) or simply turn it off.

Nothing personal

While this solved most of my incoming intrusions and interruptions, it didn't solve the fundamental problem of, I'd share more on the site if I could limit it to just my close friends and family. I had a friend tell me that she went to my FB page in hopes of keeping up with me while I was on the road and was quickly discouraged when it seemed all cold and impersonal. That got me thinking about this problem again and i went looking for answers. I found out that the Lists feature had made its way into the privacy settings of FB. I got very excited! This meant that I could potentially have the best of both worlds. I could use the one FB account for both personal stuff and general stuff for all. I created TWO lists: "Nothing Personal" and "Close Friends and Family" Using the Privacy Settings I can either choose to share information with only the people on the Close Friends and Family list OR Hide information/albums from the people on the "Nothing Personal" list. Yay!

The Bottom Line

It's nothing personal. I'm sure you're a great person. I just don't know you. So therefore, I'm not ready to share everything about me to you. I'm sure you understand! We're still friends right? πŸ™‚

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P.S. Also remember that no matter what rules you put in place or privacy settings you have turned on, if there is something that you would cringe if it made its way out into the general public, then DON'T PUT IT ON THE INTERNET! 

Generally your info is just a Google search away! Increasingly potential employers and business associates are checking YOU out on the web to see what you're really into. So keep that in mind the next time you're about to upload that funny picture or make that obscene comment.

13 Replies to “Social Networking: Nothing Personal”

  1. Wow. I had no idea that Facebook was that configurable. That’s a brilliant idea and discovery. I definitely will implement this ASAP. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. Able to limit who can chat is wonderful tip, thanks! I have used lists for some time. What I realised that once there was “Limited profile” where people in that list woudn’t have much info about your doings in Facebook but with some of the FB updates they moved the Limited profile to a normal list, and what’s worst part, removed the limiting affects so that the list was just a normal list and you now had to make that list be part of the the every settings there is in the privacy settings. User was not informed about this change at all so it was quite disturbing to find out later.

    Anyway I find it quite clumsy to put that one or more lists of not-so-well-known-facebook-friends to each of the privacy setting. It should be easier and not a hidden function only geekiest users (myself included) are able to find and understand to use.

  3. Terry… Your creativity and talent are awesome… Making your “fan friends” feel like close friends is not as hard as it seems. The bulk of my “friends” are business associates and look to my Facebook contributions NOT for what I had for breakfast, but rather, what profound (or dumb) insight I had that day AND / OR my comments on their posts. A couple of minutes (that’s all) skimming posts for any topic I am interested in and then posting a response gives interactivity and expands my knowledge / networking base. Consider making Facebook (social media) about others vs. about you… you will find those “fan friends” hold valuable bits of information (and humor) that may sharpen the tools in your arsenal. Only the very best for you and yours! Good Selling! DTG – (I have saved your blog link and will spend some real time reviewing your resources when I get a chance, THANKS for your posts)

  4. I could totally understand why someone that didn’t really know me wouldn’t want me as a friend on Facebook. The fact is, even as a NAPP member and an avid blog reader and PS UserTV watcher, I only really know the Photoshop guys and yourself through Photoshop. How could I be so presumptuous as to try to friend you on Facebook. Join a fan page sure! But heck even teh fan pages I’ve joined I rarely visit anyway…so there it is. I don’t blame ya one bit for trying to separate the two.

    Our world has become a flood of 15min fame spots for everyone all the time. Its kinda unnerving for me. I like my privacy. I’ve actually been considering dropping my facebook account all together. Every time I think I’ve figured out the privacy settings they change them…and I honestly don’t spend enough time on it to really understand it all anyway. The people that I really care about in my life already know how to get to me when they need me anyway…and anyone else…its like you said… “I really don’t care…”

  5. Hi Terry, Great post!
    In an effort to curb the ‘noise’ of today’s life, I have made the conscious decision to not have a facebook account, myspace account, twitter account, etc. I have a Linkedin account b/c It’s business and I’m looking for employment.

    I would LOVE to keep up with tons of people, to see how old long lost friends are doing, but for me, it’s not worth the time and hassle to have those accounts. Especially since you don’t know who is going to be googling you.

    The lists option is interesting, so thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  6. Wow! I had stopped using FB for all of those reasons. But it looks like they are working this out for the better. But… do I HAVE to use it? πŸ˜‰

    1. I don’t have a FB for those same reasons.

      Its like being a Sports or Movie star on a small scale. You guys have your name out there & sites where people can make contact with you. & if you don’t respond then WOW you must be a jerk.

      Take David duChemin for instance. He’s been on PS Tv, Writes books. Seems to be pretty well known right now. He had a site up for a while that we people could talk about several different topics. Kinda like but with out the mass amounts of people.

      There I had several back & forth conversations with David & others. Hell he even emailed me personal a couple of times.

      If i ever meet David in person I would be stunned if he remembered me at all. & Not have any hurt feeling to speak of.

      Terry you have answered a couple of my questions also. but don’t worry brother the ones you haven’t didn’t stop me from sleeping like a baby.

  7. I avoided Facebook for as long as I could – but SO many old eWorld friends kept emailing me to get on board, I finally succumbed. Although, I’m certainly not as famous as you Terry, there’s still a lot of people who know my work. I certainly never post on exactly where I am or what I’m doing.

    I still don’t use it much, but my tweets go into my feed. I find it confusing to have family, old coworkers, current professional contacts, and high school friends mixed in together-even with the Lists feature. I prefer to be able to say whatever I want when I want, but not on FB.

    I also hate it when someone chats me up on FB. It’s a bad implementation and wastes my life. While I don’t want to turn it off, because sometimes, it’s the only way I can get to someone quickly, I certainly never use it to say hello to anyone. Friends often use it to ask me for help with their Mac, but I wish they’d use email instead.

    Many years ago, I was stalked on the Internet, so I’m very careful of most of what I post anywhere. I certainly don’t want to entertain death threats and personal attacks again on any site. ::::: SIGH::::

    The real problem I feared concerning Facebook just occurred in my son’s wall the other night. His father’s estranged wife and brother got into some totally inappropriate personal stuff ON his wall, in a totally unrelated thread/comment my son had posted! It was SO obnoxious. I had to stay up all night and get to my son before he went to work to alert him to hide the thread before too many people had their noses shoved into his “other” family’s crap. That’s the real problem, the limited control you have over what other people post. If you don’t sit in your email all day, or as in the case of my son, where he can’t watch his email every minute, you may be subjected to other people’s crazies. Needless to say, my son is NOT happy this happened in his account, in which he’s trying to build a music & political following.

  8. I actually do “decline” friends on facebook. I decided long ago to keep it to close and personal friends only. I deleted about 30 people yesterday (sorry peeps) because I realized that it’s just too much information from people (I like and respect) but don’t want to hear about their daily lives. Personally I don’t have the space on my hard drive (brain) to take it all in anymore. Maybe if I was a teen. I do like to know whats going on with my close friends and family. I feel closer to them.

  9. Hi Terry!

    I did a video title on about marketing your business on FB and Twitter, and talked a lot about strategies on keeping personal vs business separated in your personal FB account. You’re exactly right about using Lists, and cool tip about chat! (which I did not know, thanks.)

    One thing, if someone makes a friend request, you *can* message them to suggest they go to your Fan page instead, including the URL … Facebook in its current iteration sort of hides this, though. Here’s the key: you need to choose See All Friend Requests from the bottom of the list of friend requests (even if it’s only one request). That opens a new view where each Friend Request gets a Send Message button along with Confirm or Ignore. Bonus, you also get your Lists dropdown next to each request, so you can add them to one or more lists before a Confirm.

    I have some boilerplate i use when people send me a friend request but I don’t know who they are (and thus dont’ know which of my 5 lists to assign them to). Basically I ask them nicely to please remind me of how we know each other. They message back, and usually they turn out to be fans of the blog or podcast or videos, and I have a Fans list I assign them to. I’ll often send a final reply suggesting they become fans of one of my pages, too.

    I’m really enjoying Facebook, even for just casual business acquaintances. It’s neat to keep up on what’s going on with them, and then when I run into them at an event, I can ask how their new puppy is doing or whatever. πŸ˜‰

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