Saturday, April 14, 2012

Facebook is for friends

It might seem like I’m a little bit late to the party on this one, but last night I was at the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe for a Canadian Public Relations Society networking event. The event was for students but there was a panel of well-established professionals working in the communications industry and naturally, being the graduating season, the topic turned into finding jobs, what employers look for, Facebook and Twitter and staying on top of the trends.
Something came up that I though interesting and worthy of a blog.
That is, the whole clean up your Facebook thing. As communicators, we are a walking, living and breathing brand. Our job, in a dumbed down sense, is to be the loudest, biggest, boisterous voice in the room, but in such a way that people actually listen and not turn away shaking their heads like we’re the drunk lineman from the college football team at a party. 
My friend Pikey's ass. Not the sort of photo you want
to be tagged in, but one of my favourites.
To do so, we have to have a presence on all the different types of social media, which is a rapidly growing list.
Where I disagree, is the role that Facebook plays for communicators. When Facebook came out, there was nothing really quite like it - unless you count Myspace.  It was the Adam or Eve of social networking.  People could communicate through pictures, articles, videos, and create for themselves an online presence for all their friends to see... 
Notice how I used the word ‘friends’ there?
What I share with my friends is completely different from what I share with the outside world. Part of the reason why I will never link my Twitter to my Facebook- that, and it just screams laziness, but that’s just me.
On Facebook, I’m incredibly sarcastic, enjoy making asinine remarks, provide opinions that are based on little to no fact, simply for the sake of showing off my wit and having a merry old time while doing so. 
This is why Facebook for me is an evening and weekends thing. I use it as a chance to connect with my friends, who for the most part, live miles from me. It’s a place I go to reminisce about my first, and so far, only Shambhala experience, or that time sailing the Whit Sundays in Australia, half blasted out of my mind. It's a tool I use to remind myself what I am, and where I come from. ( I usually do this with a glass of red, but that’s neither here nor there.)
I connect with friends on a level that, as an employer looking at my page, would seem immature. And they would be right. 
It is immature. That’s the point. 
If you want to see my professional side, go to my Twitter feed or my Linkedin profile. That’s where my professional side is. 
Too much weight is misplaced when it comes Facebook and its communication capabilities. It’s great for organizations to connect to their fans, but of the 24,000 people who like your page, how many of them actually regularly connect?
It’s safe to say the just about every organization’s audience is on Facebook and therefore a presence is required, and some organizations use Facebook better than others. I’m a fan of company pages for things that I like, subscribe to news outlets for the convenience, but as a person and a communicator, I do not use Facebook in any sort of professional sense. That’s just not what it’s for, and I think Facebook’s initial success, combined with the need of organization to stay on top of trends, has positioned communicators in a tough spot regarding their accounts. 
We almost have to abandon our friends and our memories. I can assure you, there is no box in my basement containing all my precious memories. They’re on Facebook, and I’m not totally comfortable giving that up for the sake of a job. 
It’s the last bastion of communication between friends. It’s too hard to meet up with friends now a days and share stories or complain about something that happened at work. It’s just not feasible, and by taking that ability to do so away from communicators and using Facebook strictly as a professional tool, it hinders the ability of communicators to be creative and “empty the cup” so to speak.
This dilutes other social mediums that are much better suited for the professional world and kind of makes them seem all the same, and sort of redundant.
To be honest, I really have no problem of a potential employer checking out my Facebook profile, I have my security pretty tight, and to be honest, there are a lot of Alex Whites in the world. Just don’t be upset with what you find when you’re ‘facestalking’ me. You went looking.

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