Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Facebook Quandry: how to balance the personal & professional?

My guest post yesterday on Writer Unboxed talked about platform and how easy it is to get sucked into the sell, sell, sell mentality across one's online presence. I was floored by all the positive and affirming responses from like-minded writers, struggling to find the balance in their public voices.

It's comforting to know I'm in such good company.

Following on to that post, and the fact that several commenters sent me FB friend requests, I have a question/quandary. I joined FB a few years ago, primarily as a way to keep in contact with distant family and friends. I also needed to FB account because my kids wanted to join, and I made their friending me a contingency.

Most of my FB friends are people I have pre-existing connections with, either family, HS and college friends, and local writing buddies. A smaller subset of my FB community are writers I have workshopped with in several online writing groups and websites I have been members of for years.

Now, I'm getting requests from various social media connections, from people I don't have direct relationships with and I'm not sure what to do.

It's important to me to keep an appropriate boundary between my private and public lives, especially where my children are concerned, and I want to stay connected with other writers and readers I encounter on the net. I also don't think those folks really care about the play my kid's in or that one of my cousins is getting married this summer.

If any of you have more than 1 FB profile, can you share what your experience has been? Is it a hassle to maintain both? Does it help keep that boundary intact? And where do you draw the line between personal friends and professional friends?


  1. Hi Lisa - I recently started a separate FB fan page (Beverly Diehl, Writer) on the advice of Dan (Single Dad Laughing, Will Work 4 Followers) and although it's in its infancy, truly think that's the way to go.

    If my personal friends want to get all my writing news, they can fan me, and those JUST interested in my writing don't have to hear all the burble about who's having a baby and such from my personal FB page. I've got my writing blog set to "point" people there now.

    Come visit (and I would love if you would fan my page, I need about a dozen more FB fans to get a shortened URL.) Writing in Flow

  2. This is EXACTLY the problem I was facing a few months ago. I started getting requests from a few people I "knew" online, and several that I didn't. While I LOVE making connections on the internet -- and some of them have led me to really great friendships -- I didn't think it was fair to some of my friends and family (and their kids) who hadn't signed up for their lives to be open books.

    So the first thing I did was set up a bunch of different Privacy Settings, making custom groups and deciding who could see what.

    That wasn't *quite* enough, though, so I also created a public Page (as opposed to a personal Profile) and now I use that to connect with writerly folks and online friends. The great thing is, the two aren't mutually exclusive -- friends and family who want to stay informed and be supportive about my writing can Like my Page. And if at some point I get close enough to any of the online folks, I can Friend them through the Profile. But for the ones who don't crossover in either direction, there's some separation, and that makes me feel more comfortable.

    Now, there's a lot about a Page that isn't the same as Profile -- some limitations that I don't like -- and if I were doing it again, I might choose to make a second Profile instead. Technically I've read that you're not supposed to do that, but... whatevs. I kind of wish I had. (And I may, at some point, change it. Like if/when I get married? I dunno.)

  3. I cast a third vote for a FB Page. In my case, I'm the admin for the NERAX Page (New England Real Ale eXhibition). FB recently added a nifty tool for switching between being yourself and being your Page. Very easy to keep them separate. I feel no urge to talk about beer in my personal profile.

  4. @Beverly, @Kristan, @Pam--You've convinced me. Got a page going. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. I just set up a professional page for myself a couple of weeks ago. Took a great class at savvy authors on how to use facebook and twitter, which walked us through it.

    One point to consider, although I realize I'm preaching to the choir, since you already set up the pro page, is that if you become wildly popular, a maximum of 5000 people can "friend" you. There's no limit to how many people can "like" a pro page.

    I have two completely separate accounts, one under my own name for friends and family, and then one under my pen name that has the pro page attached.

    Feel free to ping me in email if you want to chat about this in more detail.

  6. Thanks, Kathy. Much obliged.