Over sharing online can be harmful to your bottom line!

Over sharing online can be harmful to your bottom line!

Is it just me, or does it seem like the line between personal and public information is becoming more and more blurry as a result of the rampant use of social networking sites like Facebook?

I’m sure that this has happened to you – you go to a networking event, have a nice conversation with someone and then receive a Facebook friend invitation from them. The next thing you know, you’re learning that their child had a cold yesterday, what they had to eat for dinner and their personal feelings about a variety of political issues. Perhaps you enjoy getting to know your connections in such a way, that they’re real people with real lives just like you. That might be acceptable for your personal page, especially with the list options which now make it easier to filter which people can see certain posts.

I believe that it’s getting more challenging, however for all of us to find that balance between sharing information with our online tribes and sharing too much information. This conundrum can be especially dicey when it comes to your business’s Facebook page.

A Facebook page for your business can be a great way to keep in touch with your loyal customers and to build relationships with new prospects. I am all for making a real, authentic connection with your community. However, if you get a little too personal, you could risk making your audience uncomfortable or damage your reputation.

When it comes to posting on your business Facebook page, showing your personality is a good thing. If you want to post thoughtful observations, share quotes you like, or link to news stories that interested you, these can all help humanize your business and help your fans feel like they “know” you. We want to buy from our friends and those we trust, which can be a very powerful social marketing concept.

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be hard to know where the line is between giving your business a personal face and crossing over into “overshare” territory.

Here’s a nifty personal guideline that I use for my female business coaching business:

We all have a variety of personas that we switch on and off depending on the situation. If you are meeting with a new client, you’ll use your professional persona. If you’re having drinks with friends, you’ll ditch the professional persona and put on your friendly, fun-loving persona.  If you are having dinner with your extended family, you may even slip back into your old childhood role as “the responsible one” or “the baby of the family”.

When posting on your Facebook’s business page, make sure you are securely locked into your professional persona. The things that you post should ideally relate to your business or appeal to your intended audience in some way. So, for example, your opinion on a certain political issue really isn’t relevant for your business page unless you happen to have a business that is directly impacted by a law change or head a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the issue.

Consider keeping highly controversial posts off of your business Facebook page (leave that for your personal page if you so desire). A hastily re-posted joke or critical opinion could hurt feelings or unnecessarily turn off clients. If you are not sure about it, then don’t post it. The point here is to wear the appropriate page “hat” and post with intention.

Just remember, if you wouldn’t bring something up to a brand new client during your first meeting, it probably doesn’t belong on your business’s Facebook page.  You can always use your personal Facebook page to air those thoughts, though given the site’s constantly changing privacy policy, you want to consider checking your settings on a regular basis to maintain your desired privacy!

What other tips can you share about balancing personal and professional on Facebook?