6 Musts to Make the New Facebook Safe for Professional Networking

Here’s the most important thing about the new Facebook release, from a networking perspective: It provides you with new tools to make Facebook safe and useful for business networking — providing you master those tools. (If you’d like to read my less-actionable philosophical natterings on the new release, here’s my post on that.)

If you’re one of the people who’s resisted opening your FB to a wider audience because you’re afraid of worlds colliding, oversharing, or ruining your rep, this blog’s for you. I’ve been that person thus far, and now I’m finally jumping in.

What’s follows is my list of 6 Musts to Make the New Facebook Safe for Professional Networking – my recommendations of the key stuff you need to do on September 29th or thereabouts when Timeline unrolls to the general public to make your Facebook ready for your professional world. Keep in mind that I’m working with the developer’s beta, so some things may have changed slightly with what’s actually released; I’ll make sure to update here if that happens.

1. Enable your subscribe button. It will allow people to subscribe to the stream of posts you mark as “Public” (you do this as you post it), making it easy for you to curate a stream of good, solid professional information for people who want to hear about what you’re working on, and connect to you as a source, not as a friend (not yet anyway!). (This FB info page includes a link on how to turn on your Subscribe button; click here if you’d like to be one of my first subscribers.)

2. Limit the audience for past posts. Now that you’ve got your subscribe button on, you’ll hopefully have a ton of strangers tuning in to hear your insightful updates – but you don’t want those people to have your entire Timeline to pick through. That would be creepy, right? You want to save that stuff for actual Friends (whether from your personal or professional life). Head into your Privacy settings and click to “Limit the Audience for Past Posts.” Now new subscribers will only be able to see posts you mark Public from here on in. Everything going back in time is shared with Friends only – unless you go through and individually curate the posts that you’d like available to all.

3. Curate your Recent Timeline. Your subscribers will only see items on your Timeline that you mark “Public.” So head into your Timeline, and see which items from the past months that you’d like to share – what feels comfortable to share with a stranger who’s clicked because they share professional interests? Make your cover photo public by heading to the photo where it was originally uploaded and use the “Share With” button. Then make a handful of photos and status updates publicly available, so subscribers have something interesting (and appropriate) to look at when they come visit.

4. Announce what’s coming. This one isn’t quite a must, but I think it’s a good idea. If you haven’t used FB for professional updates in the past, your friends might get annoyed if you’re suddenly sending three updates a day about the state of social media or how to build better relationships. That’s not what they signed up for. Send a status update to let them know you’ll be using your public stream for professional content, and that they can opt-out of your public updates by Unsubscribing. All they have to do is hover over the corner of your update, or visit your Profile, and they can pick and choose what updates they receive.

5. Beware – or Be Aware of – the Ticker. This is the fly in the ointment of the new release. The Ticker is the new activity stream on the right hand side of the screen that shares everything you do on FB – your comments on a friends post or wall, a photo upload, etc. At the moment, from what I can tell, there’s no way to opt out. (You can ask your friends to opt you out, but that’s no real fix.) Your activity is only shared with Friends, not Subscribers, other than what you mark as public. But be aware that for the moment, your network can watch each and every step you make in the social network via the Ticker. You may not want Professional contacts knowing how frequently you comment on your friends’ posts.

6. Control Who Can Post on Your Timeline. If you hyper-control-oriented, limit who can post on your Timeline to “only you” in Privacy Settings/How You Connect – or limit the people who can view Friends’ posts on your Timeline to “Friends only,” the next option on the Privacy Settings list. Also visit the “Tags” section and choose turn “Timeline Review” on so that you can approve friend’s tags.

This list is surely not exhaustive – so please add your own suggestions in the comments to make this more useful! Also, please subscribe to me on Facebook if you liked this post!

Comments (10)

  1. Sarah – You provide an interesting perspective and one that I am personally recommending against. As the founder of an online training site for social media, my students look to me to help them with recommendations on the new Facebook, and here’s my take on the Subscribe button: it’s not worth it. Especially for women, who need to be a bit more careful about their privacy and that of their families.

    My personal profile is just that: it’s personal. Yes, I do share some professional items, but just the stuff that people in my personal life are interested in. If I add a Subscribe button, there’s no reason for people to LIKE my business page, and that’s ultimately why I’m on Facebook. They are trying to force brands into advertising to be seen, and I think that’s a lose-lose proposition for everyone.

    My colleagues in PR and media have discussed the FB Subscribe issue at length, and they agree with me: unless you’re a celebrity, the Subscribe button simply isn’t worth the risk.

    • Interesting – I’ll have to think about that! Assuming you set up your privacy settings so that your public info is limited, and so that you accept potential subscribers, are there still risks from your POV? I agree that if you have a business page, it absolutely makes sense to concentrate your larger professional tribe there, and keep your profile tight for friends and family.

  2. Thanks for posting. I’d like to add a caveat: I enabled my subscribe button,then was immediately subscibed to by a guy posting porn on Facebook. To protect family and friends make your list of subscribers,only visible to yourself.

    Re Lists: I’ve been using lists for about a year to make certain posts visible to different audiences,and invite groups of people to events. NOT impressed however with the Facebook change. I went to use my lists for invitations,and found they had replaced MY lists with theirs! Having a list of people with whom I attended is NOT as helpful,as the location-based ,and interest-based lists I had created.

    • Great addition Suzanne – I haven’t gotten subscribe spam yet but I know the day will come.

      re Facebook killing your lists, that’s extremely annoying – you can recreate them in the new FB, but what a pain.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Pingback: myGreenlight Blog Roundup « Keith Ferrazzi

  4. For the past week I have heard nothing but complains about the last FB update. I personally loved the idea of being able to label whether someone was a friend, coworker or close friend. I am glad you took the time to help people see how they could make this tool work for them. :)

    • Thanks Melissa – and ps, if you ever want to do a guest post about juggling your personal and professional brand (and ultimately blending them) I would love to publish it. You’ve done it beautifully.

  5. Thanks for sharing this, Sara. I’d enabled subscriptions and begun evaluating each status update to think about whether I wanted it public — but hadn’t thought to go back and curate some old posts for public view, or photos, nor to limit access to past timeline.

    I’ve always used my FB profile for a mix of personal and professional content (wouldn’t Keith be proud of the blending of my lives?) but still always managed it as a gated community, not the public park my blog or Twitter feeds are. This is a change in mindset to think of FB as public facing, even if it’s limited.

    • Hi Colleen, thanks for replying! Me too, re: Personal and professional friends have always been in Facebook. But I never used it the way I use Twitter, as a public professional feed with people who are mostly strangers – and I’m glad to be able to do both things at FB now. That said, I wouldn’t want to open my full Timeline, or most of my status updates, to strangers who don’t care how good the soup I made over the weekend was. So I’m glad for how they’ve balanced it.

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