Almost everyone has a Facebook profile. However, how many of you keep it strictly personal? The most common mistake that users of Facebook make is mixing business with pleasure. This doesn’t count the handful of other data about you that is public knowledge, whether you like it or not. This was a discussion I had recently with a few friends on the use of social media in and out of the workplace as well as whether or not you should accept invites from co-workers and allow yourself to be “friended.”
There are one of two options available regarding co-workers and any business associates when it comes to Facebook and other social media profiles.
Option 1: Create a separate profile for your business profile. This would be a profile that you would “friend” co-workers and other business associates and would be used for business type sharing of information and status updates. Nothing personal.
Option 2: Don’t friend co-workers or business associates. Ever.
But what if you want to friend just one or two co-workers you consider friends, you might ask. The safest bet is to decline politely. And, if you think that no one will feel left out — where you accept one invite but decline another — think again. Everyone can see who is on your friends list. Someone in the office might take personal offense if you friend one and not another. Office politics are a bitch — to put it bluntly — and if you do not want to be in the middle of a game playing favorites and stoking grudges, it is best just to decline any invites politely.
Most folks do not understand how their Facebook profile can cause problems in the workplace. Once you start friending co-workers, anything and everything you post will be out there for your co-workers to see… and use against you. For instance:
Did you upset Sally yesterday because you took her favorite parking space? Well, remember that rant you posted last week calling your boss names? Sally now has ammunition against you and can pass on that information to your boss which may land you out of a job.
Sporting a political view or idea that differs from one of your co-workers? They may well use it against you in the future. Not only that, some views and support of certain political ideals might even be against corporate policy and may get reported which may land you out of a job as well.
Need I say more?
Also, should you be using Facebook at work? Unless your job revolves around social media, the answer is no. Facebook should be on your own time. Stop loading it on your work computer and stop looking at your smartphone. Whacky cat pictures, Farmville and status updates can wait until the end of the work day. Nobody holds a grudge like a co-worker who feels you are slacking off. All it takes is just once for an erroneous perception to be established.
And lastly, don’t link your Facebook profile to any resumes or job applications. There is still enough private information available online to prospective employers that you may not necessarily want them to have. You can hide most of this information from public view in your Facebook profile, but tagged pictures, your friend list, and other personal information are still available for public view regardless. Unless you have a business profile setup and in use, it is good practice to abstain from handing out that information no matter how much they may encourage you to do so.