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Can I use Facebook in building a personal brand?

Personally, I’m not sure how useful Facebook is for brand building. On the face of it, it seems a good idea: constant contact, regular updates from your colleagues and clients, an easy mechanism for getting news to people, etc. In practice things aren’t quite so clear cut, and I’m yet to be convinced. However, if you do want to use it for professional networking here are six tips for keeping a ‘clean’ profile

As readers of my blog know, I’m a big fan of networking sites like LinkedIn and Ecademy. However, with the growing buzz about Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites, and their increasing take-up by 30-something professionals, I also get asked whether these sites should be part of your personal brand efforts.

Personally, I’m not sure how useful a site like Facebook is for brand  building. On the face of it, it seems a good idea: constant contact, regular updates from your colleagues and clients, an easy mechanism for getting news to people, etc. In practice things aren’t quite so clear cut, and I’m yet to be convinced. However, if you do want to use it for professional networking here are six tips for keeping a ‘clean’ profile:

  1. It’s essential that you keep your professional and social profiles totally separate. Your business contacts don’t need to see your social arrangements, or the messages passed between you and your friends. I tell people to use a nickname or some derivative of their name, and a hotmail/gmail/etc. email address for their social profile, and reserve their full name and business email for the professional one.
  2. It’s very difficult to control what people post on your profile, but you can control what people see. Judicious use of the privacy functions can give you almost total control over the content of your profile
  3. Make friends with yourself. Make your other profile a friend. That way you can check what other people are seeing on your profile. Do this daily, especially if you add an ‘application’ that publishes news on your newsfeed
  4. Be selective about the applications you add. Do you really want your business contacts to see ‘how sexy is your name?’ when they look at your profile? At the same time, the applications are what makes your profile interesting, so find some that are fun or useful and on-brand for you. Consider getting a programmer to create an application for you to use as a viral marketing tool
  5. However much care you take over your profile remember that your contacts may not be as discriminating as you, so you may find that you end up with some ‘fun’ messages on your feed anyway. Share these tips with your contacts and encourage them to keep their private and business lives separate too
  6. Set up a group. That gives you an easy mechanism for communicating with lots of people in one go. But remember that your contacts will only get the message when they log in, so you have no way of knowing who got your message and who didn’t

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