Facebook’s a great way to self-publicise isn’t it? But what persona will work best?
More of our clients are now asking us to create project Facebook pages. This seems to work well in terms of communicating with peers, populating events and getting people involved in the transformation of their local area. That’s all rosy and good, but the professional Facebook identity brings with it some dodgy dilemmas.
Facebook can be difficult to navigate at the best of times, but how does it work when those friending and unfriending you, liking your status and poking you, are not your closest chums from nursery school, but consultants, clients, or even community representatives? In the course of the social mediarisation of several of our projects, I have seen, been, and/or been subject to the following characters.
The pre-emptive stand-off-er: Perhaps the most cautious professional Facebooker, the pre-emptive-stand-off-er creates a shiny new, squeaky clean Facebook profile with a professional looking profile picture (preferably with a building in the background) and a friend list comprising only professional acquaintances. This semi-persona is free to roam about the Facebook world creating project pages, commenting on consultation events, and administrating community groups without the fear that a client might see pictures of them and their mate from uni dressed up as zombie nuns and throwing up in a graveyard.
The leave-no-record-er: A comfortable compromise, the leave-no-record-er is over-familiar with colleagues in person, cheeky on the telephone, and as raucous as the best of them over the post-meeting beers, but this sort takes great pains to prevent the creation of any documentation of friendliness. I once mistakenly tried to friend a leave-no-record-er and in return received a very awkward phonecall explaining why we couldn’t be Facebook buddies, at least not until after the project was over at which point he may yet reconsider.
The bragger: The most irritating of Facebookers might be the bragger, whose life is so consumed with self-promotion that Facebook is a non-stop personal marketing campaign. The bragger has no need for the pre-emptive stand-off as they are able to seamlessly move from status updater to project page poster without so much as a change in timbre.
The fact-controller: This is a breed that has the technical ability and desire to control who sees what through multi-terraced levels of friends. The fact-controller is uniquely powerful and annoying in their ability to edit their various facades and therefore easily divides their personal life from their professional with an ease either of the first two types might envy.
The manipulator: A dark and deadly professional Facebook user is the manipulator. This is a dodgy sort who lures you in with seeming openness and warmth only to later implicate you in a world of conflicts of interest and petitions against you. Do not friend. Feign ignorance, feign the leave-no-record-er, feign that your account was hacked, but do not friend.
The all-in-er: This is a rare bird indeed. Most often a young creature, the all-in-er embraces the blurry line between personal and professional, embraces the discomfort a client may feel when seeing that picture of zombie nuns, embraces the journey downward in the estimations of many and the triumphant rise in the few who share their philosophies. The all-in-er is probably actually best placed to reach the holy grail; to actually get work through Facebook.
Maria Smith is a director at Studio Weave