FRIENDLY ADVICE: KEEP FACEBOOK SEPARATE

As businesspeople incorporate social networking sites into their marketing efforts, they don’t have a lot of guidance that’s based in experience. Netiquette changes so rapidly that today’s faux pas might be perfectly acceptable by next week.

I do think some things are timeless, and one place it pays to be careful is blurring the line between your business and your personal life. Posting information that’s too personal or that has the potential to offend can cost you business. It’s been that way before Facebook was invented, and my guess is that it will always be.

For example, business-related posts that present you as a professional tend to carry less weight when they alternate with a personal message about the headache you have from drinking too much last night. Posts that champion your political or social beliefs may quietly chase off clients or customers who don’t quite share your viewpoint.

Some people would argue that Facebook and other sites should present the “real” you, warts and all, and if someone doesn’t like it, that’s too bad. In a perfect world, that would be wonderful. But most of us live, function, and do business in the real world, where things just aren’t quite as cut-and-dried. Do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor and err on the side of caution and propriety.

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