How to Avoid Being Defriended

The new movie, Social Network, about the founding of Facebook, opened October 1st to rave reviews and box office success. Facebook went from being a social networking site for college students to the site that is searched more than Google with more than 500 million users.  When both grandparents and grandkids are on Facebook you know it is a site that can’t be ignored.

With so many people using Facebook the opportunity for making etiquette mistakes is high. I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips to keep you from being defriended or otherwise ostracized on Facebook.

Watch who you friend
Facebook is like your house. You wouldn’t invite everyone into your house and you don’t need to do it on Facebook. Be thoughtful about who you want to friend.  Once you say yes to someone from a particular group it can be hard to ignore a request from someone else from that group. Also, never friend your boss or clients. While you may be squeaky clean on FB, your friends may say or do things that reflect badly on you. It’s just not worth the risk.

I would also encourage you to not friend your coworkers. I shared a story on my Facebook company page about a 16 year old girl who wrote on her personal page that she was “so bored at work today.” She didn’t identify where she worked, but her coworkers told her boss and she was fired. I don’t think what she posted warranted being fired, but the point is people are watching you and you never know how they will react.

Offer options
If someone like your boss, client or colleague invites you to friend them, invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn instead. If you feel you must have an explanation, simply say “I limit my Facebook connections to a small group of just my close friends and family, but I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn.” 

Tag lightly
Don’t tag your friends in photos or videos without their permission, especially ones that could be embarrassing to them.

Your cows annoy me
Don’t make your friends take quizzes or participate in things like Farmville. While you might really enjoy learning what kind of mass-murderer you are your friends most likely don’t. At the end of the quiz there is usually the option to “just get the results”, do that.

Groups are for groups
Never form a group for your business. Groups are for people who share a similar interest, passion, hobby or sport. If you want to have a company presence on Facebook create a company page.

No spam
Avoid repeatedly talking about your business, book, or blog on your personal page. Create a company page and share company information there. Your friends will thank you.

Be professional
Everything we do online is pretty much open to everyone, even when we have our privacy controls very tight. I once posted something on my personal page that had the word “etiquette” in it and the update was picked up as a searchable post for the word “etiquette”. I was not happy about this. While it was a silly, innocuous post, I meant it just for my friends to see, not the whole world.

You must, I repeat, must be very careful about what you say online. More and more employers are conducting online searches to see how candidates act when they think they aren’t being watched.  If you’re spouting rude, crude or socially unacceptable vitriol on your Facebook page you are risking your career, social standing and reputation.

Facebook is a wonderful tool, but watch your ps and qs, the whole world is watching.

If you want to learn more about social media and social media etiquette, please join me for a social media webinar I’m giving Tuesday, 10/5, at 10AM PST.

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