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Beware the Blended Facebook Page

I've been considering writing this post for a while now, running sentences and ideas over in my head. Because I think it's important that you read this and you understand *why* it's important.

Facebook has become a huge way for people to communicate. I get an inordinate amount of work related email through my personal page on Facebook. And yes, I share 'personal' things on Facebook. Pictures of my family, my dog, my beloved Green Bay Packers and my friends proliferate my page. And yes, I do 'cross the line' with some political posts at times. I am pro gay marriage and fairly liberal, don't care for Sarah Palin and love the Detroit Tigers.  Lately, I've been posting videos of hymns sung by my daughter's gospel choir. And I know that I run a risk of potentially upsetting people who are anti gay, Bears fans, Palin lovers and very conservative. And I have made the conscious decision to allow 'professional colleagues' to be my Facebook friends. I gave that decision a great deal of thought as I know people might decide not to work with me or read my blog posts based upon my political opinions.

If you disagree with my politics and beliefs, as many of my closest friends do, that's okay with me. And you can post all of that stuff that you want. But I am going to warn you here and now, if you choose to make industry colleagues your Facebook friends and you 'sell' to our industry, you run the risk of losing business.

I've seen vendors who've taken the "all industry approach" to their Facebook friend selection. And then they post whatever they want, which is their absolute right. But here are some things I've seen that might make you say, "Hmmmm..." when considering hiring that person/their company for a job:

1. Drunk photos of themselves.

2. Sex toys they use/recently used along with descriptions of their night of sex.

3. Derogatory remarks about people's weight, height, ethnicity, religious preference, sexual preference, familial status gender (do any of these sound familiar?) and more.

4. Lots and lots of deep, deep cleavage with the occasional near 'nip slip'.

5. Posts about how inept their employer is.

As I said, it really is your right to post whatever you feel is appropriate. But if you go this route, choose your friends carefully. You may even consider, as many people have, to create two Facebook pages. One for the 'professional you' and another for the 'personal you'. Or you can limit who sees what you post.

Lastly, this is not just my opinion. I've been in meeting with clients where vendors have not made the shortlist as a result of questionable Facebook posts made by their sales reps (that have been seen by the decision maker).

Disagree? Let me know. Agree? Share your thoughts. Have you decided *not* to work with someone based upon their Facebook posts?

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  • Clearly you have never seen my oldest daughter's posts! If you had, you would understand why I am capable of pushing aside "unique" posts. I do agree there is the risk of someone choosing to not do business with someone who posts something they find offensive but I think the first someone is making a mistake. From where I sit, my selection of a vendor is never based on their politics or personal values. It is all about who can best meet my needs and the needs of my company. However, don't ever dis' my Falcons, Braves or beloved Fighting Irish. That is crossing the line!

  • Hi Dennis! I think people have every right to publish whatever they want, but I just want to be sure they know what the consequences could be. I love your point of view and your criteria for vendor selections and I think, for the most part, you're right on. I'll give you a specific example that I witnessed. A salesperson for a vendor referred to one particular ethnic group with great vehemence and a few sexual remarks. The company who was thinking of hiring that particular vendor decided it wasn't worth the risk to have that particular person visiting their property when that type of language may surface and violate someone's Fair Housing rights. Therefore, they did not go with that particular vendor. Would you agree with that?

  • Lisa, as you know I consider you one of my dearest friend, closest, admired industry professional, and more importantly "family". Probably your most endearing quality is your ability to voice your own personal opinion without ever defaming or belittling anyone who doesn't agree. You have a unique knack of putting a "voice" to what many are "thinking".
    As my son told me the other day when trying to explain about this very subject and the ramifications of posting opinions on Facebook to his own son, he said "Think about what you just posted and envision it on a huge billboard sign above your Grandmother’s house! NOW, how would you feel about what you posted?"
    I think people get caught up in their responses without remembering the impact. In his case he reminded him that universities and colleges he is applying to, employers, and other influential people in his life, both today and in the future, will judge him "tomorrow by what he posts today".
    Wise advice, if I do say so myself.

  • Thanks, Jackie (aka "Big Sister)!
    Remember when our parents said, "Think before you speak"? Now, it's "Think before you post". And this goes for Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pheed, Tumblr, and all those other choices out there. We need to be more thoughtful on some of the things we say/do/share publicly. Just use common sense, my friends.

  • We have a responsibility to others on public spaces. It is that simple. We have a responsibility to take care of our kids if we have children, to take care of our employer if we are employed, to take care of our customers if we are their vendors and to take care of our friends (and hopefully we can each say we have one). And how you reflect your internal happiness/grief/anger/resentment/passiveness/humility/charity/etc directly correlates with how you handle the rest of your day to day experiences. Each of our actions are that, "our" actions... we acted to write our thoughts, they did not just magically appear. And people who read such actioned reflections have the right to decide how that impacts them. I can tell you that I am selective when it comes to my connections with others because of their actions on the space, which is a good thing. So, if you are in the industry and we are friends, it is because you and I actually have enough in common and you carry a level of respect in both your professional and personal life. And also, be mindful that if you do feel compelled to act out against your employer, others or the industry you do so at your own risk. So, yes beware of those blended pages people because they can "and should" bite if you act against the good of others.

  • Carmen, this was absolutely PERFECTLY stated. My favorite line in your comment, "So, if you are in the industry and we are friends, it is because you and I actually have enough in common and you carry a level of respect in both your professional and personal life". Thank you so very much for commenting. I have accepted friend request without really knowing if that person (whose request I accepted) carries that level of respect. Most of the time, I have had no issues. But on a few occasions, I've either 'hidden' their feed or unfriended them altogether because I just couldn't take it anymore. Good points from you, all the way around.

  • My pleasure! Im glad you wrote about it because it is important for others to be able to understand that showing up at the ball park doesn't always mean you'll finish the game. You can always pick up your ball and bat and leave. Ive done that and Im okay with it. :)

  • I can't help but share my friend Duncan's (@firebelly) thoughts on this. http://www.firebellymarketing.com/2011/09/content-conversations-mbj-rule.html

  • I think Duncan needs to come up with one where the acronym is LMT (my initials)!

  • I enjoyed this post, Lisa! Thanks for sharing. I pretty much opinions on everything...so when I started my business I had to make a conscious decision about when, how often and if I shared my personal views on Facebook and Twitter. I do have a business page so that clients and people who see my talk are 'routed' to that page and not my personal one, but even on my personal page I'm much more cognizant of the results of my words. But man it can be hard not to opine on everything! (=

  • Rommel, I'm just glad you are using common sense in your posts! Thanks for commenting. Hopefully, people will learn there is a right way and a wrong way when you are trying to do business.

  • Jennifer Bohannon

    I agree, Lisa, but I think that this should apply to everyone, whether they choose to include industry acquaintances in their friends list or not. Social media carries a big responsibility for us all, as what you post (or what your friends post and tag you in) can be captured forever. Example: I was on Facebook late one night and a property post caught my eye--probably because it was a very late Sunday night, so it was unusual. A former property manager evidently still had the password for the property Facebook page, because "This place, company and the people that works in the office and corporate office sucks. The company dont (sic) know how to treat the good employees right." didn't sound like something the property typically would post. I immediately emailed everyone I know in the company and the post was removed the next morning, but I still know exactly what was written on that post because I took a screenshot of it. It's alive. Forever.
    I, like you, am passionate. I'm passionate about humans (ALL of them....and especially the idiots). I'm passionate about being respectful (to EVERYONE...even Republicans). Not everyone can take my sarcastic approach to passionate pleas from opposing views, so when I got on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest, I made the decision not to "friend" anyone. I accept all friend requests from industry acquaintances, business colleagues and such, but no one will be accepting my friend request, because I will never send one. This way it's their choice to "be offended" by my pro-Human stance, comments and status posts and all.
    P.S. I promise not to be offended if anyone "defriends" me because of my pro-Human views.....or my ellipses.

  • Great post! There's a reason why people seem to be more open about personal subjects while online. It's call The Online Disinhibition Effect. Here's an awesome study on the matter: http://www.samblackman.org/Articles/Suler.pdf

    Again, great post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Debbie

    I agree with you, I have created two Facebook pages. As a corporate trainer (and somewhat of a mentor) I feel I must keep my personal life and my professional life separate. I keep my personal opinions, beliefs and feelings separate from my “business Facebook” page; I want to be judged on my work not prejudged for my opinions and beliefs. Oh, and one more thing: Go Tigers!

  • MP Clark

    This is hilarious.
    Facebook has issues anyway. It is a slow, clunky site.

  • Joel

    Facebook does have smart lists that you can use to divide and segment your friends into lists. You can then target your posts just to specific lists (or leave them out on a post) such as family, industry friends, colleagues, highschool buddies, college buddies, in-laws, etc.