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Separating Facebook into Professional Friends and Real-life Friends – How to do it and why you Should

Problem

You have lots of friends on Facebook, some of them real-life friends and some of them Facebook only friends.  You may recognise some of these issues:

  • You log into Facebook to relax during some downtime after work, all you see are work related posts from work related ‘friends’.
  • Patients are asking you to be friends  and you don’t really know what to do or how to handle it.
  • You are constantly aware that when you do a business status update that your personal friends and family see these updates and you are worried that you might be annoying them. They could stop following you and not see your posts, but then they won’t see your family related posts either!
  • You want to make more personal updates on Facebook but don’t really want some of your business associates, that you don’t really know, seeing them.
  • You want to balance work and home life and find that Facebook is a mixed blur of the two and that the balance is becoming compromised.
  • You are aware that there are three personas under which you may interact on Facebook and don’t know how to manage this-
    • 1) As a real-life person Interacting with real life friends and family e.g. Joe Blogs
    • 2) As a business person interacting with patients, the media or other local businesses e.g. Dr Joe Blogs
    • 3) As your business on Facebook interacting as a group of dental professionals with patients e.g. Joe Blogs Dental Practice Ltd
  • You want to check in to various restaurants and places of interest, but because you don’t really know who these people are that our friends you are worried that these so-called friends may find out you are not at home! A possible security breach.

I’m sure there are many solutions to this problem, but if you are a friend of mine on Facebook (either personal or business) then you may know that I have just been through the process of separating out friends I actually know and friends I only know on Facebook.

There are some massive benefits, other than solving the problems above, to separating out your Facebook account the way that I described below, follow my process and then see what other surprising benefits I’ve uncovered.

Oh, and not everyone might take kindly to being removed as a personal friend, one of mine didn’t (Which actually proved my point that they weren’t proper friends in the first place)… I’ve blanked out the name but check out the message they sent me towards the end of this post!

Separating real-life friends from business friends on Facebook

Step 1 – Decide on the Criteria

If you’re going to separate out real-life friends from business trends decide what the criteria for this separation is going to be. Is your personal Facebook account going to only be for personal friends and family? Or,  are you going to include people that you have met in person but may also be linked to business and work?

What I did

I decided that anyone that I have personally met and been introduced to is allowed to be a personal friend of my personal account on Facebook. In the past I allowed anyone that sent me a friend request on Facebook to become a friend, I therefore had many people as friends whom I had never actually met and didn’t really know as a real person..

My criteria was therefore, if I have looked the person in the eye in real life (and like them) then that person can be a personal friend on my personal account on Facebook.

If someone is a friend on Facebook  and I have not looked them in the eye then chances are they are a business acquaintance.

Step 2 – Create a Public Figure

Artist, band or public figureGo to the page creation section on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/create/ and click on ” artist, band or public figure”,  follow Facebook’s instructions and create your personal persona e.g. Dr Joe Blogs.

What I did

I actually had an older business page called “Mark Oborn Ltd”, This was a local business page on Facebook, I simply changed it to a public figure.

The public figure page I created uses the name @markobornprofessional https://www.facebook.com/markobornprofessional You could set your public figure up as @DrJoeBloggs or @JoeBloggsProfessional.

When you create your public figure page make sure you include a little bit of personal information about you as well is what you do in business life. Use this in the description of the page, by way of example my description is “The professional page of Mark Oborn, online marketing consultant, coffee fiend, hat wearer and foodie.

Step 3 – Tell your personal account friends what you are doing

You then need to let your personal account friends know that you have created a new Public Figure page, do this by creating a status update NOT by sending lots of personal messages, if you send lots of personal direct messages you may find your Facebook account gets blocked for spam abuse (this is from personal experience, I sent lots of messages initially and had a notification from Facebook that I might get banned… be warned!).

What I did

My first status update was:

It’s time to sort out my Facebook account.

Using Facebook for business has changed over the years, I’ve so many ‘friends’ on Facebook that I don’t know in person, this is historical to the way Facebook was in the early days. I’m not sure I’m happy with that!

If I ‘check in’ to a place, do I really want people I don’t know being notified of that? Not really!

Do my personal friends really want to see my professional stuff? Not really! And if they do I’d rather they had a choice!

There are a few ways around this dilemma, I could set up ‘friend lists’ and show posts to only 1 set of friends, but I’ve decided on an alternative, an alternative that I will be advising clients to adopt, and if that’s my advice to them, then I better do the same thing myself.

Over the next few months, my personal Facebook account will be slowly reduced to “real life friends” only and used as a genuine personal Facebook account, rather than the current blend of personal and professional as it is now.

For current Facebook ‘friends’ that I don’t really know as a real life friend I’ve set up a Mark Oborn Professional page.

There will be cross over, but ‘real life friends’ can then chose if they want to see my ‘professional’ stuff too. I’ll welcome anyone that wants to follow my professional page without question and all posts will be public.

And so, I will be ‘unfriending’ lots of people over the coming months, this is not “I am not your friend any more”, it is simply that we’re actually professional friends and so the best way to chat, laugh and be friends with you will be via my professional profile.

That is, after all what you get to see when I’m in work mode, the Professional Mark Oborn.

The Professional Profile will simply be my usual mix of hats, beer, coffee, random rambling posts and stuff related to dentistry. I’ll NOT be using it as a marketing channel!

I hope/know you will understand 🙂

All the best,

Mark Oborn (either Personal of Professional)

https://www.facebook.com/markobornprofessional

and here is a subsequent post on my personal Facebook account:

Dear Dudes of dentistry wot is not personal friends,

Please remember this is my PERSONAL Facebook account, I don’t post about marketing, dentistry or coaching on this page, so if you’d like to see stuff from me please also ‘like’ my professional page.

I know there are a few professional people ‘following’ me on my personal profile that I don’t know in person, you’ll only see ‘public’ posts if you do this… whooosh… listen for the tumble weed as I DON’T ROUTINELY MAKE PUBLIC POSTS from my personal account… coz it’s personal, see?

If you’d like to actually chat, engage and see my daily Facebook stream (that’s what FB is all about) then please join me on my professional page by clicking ‘like’ on the link below… or if you do actually know me personally then add me as a friend and you can then see my personal posts here.

Have a GREAT day:-)

https://www.facebook.com/markobornprofessional

Step 4 – Begin the migration

This basically means clicking ‘unfriend’. Yep, it’s tough and may take a long time if you have thousands of friends, but arguably why have you got thousands of friends on Facebook? It’s impossible to have that many friends!

Also know but it’s quite possible for business acquaintances to be real life friends, for me this wasn’t about removing anyone in business from my personal account, it was about removing people that I didn’t actually know from my personal account.

What I did

There were so many people that I had as friends whom I really wanted to be friends with, influential people in business, people that could help me in business and indeed people that I could help. But I wanted to stick to the criteria set out at the beginning. If I had not looked at them in the eye in real life then they will not be personal friends on Facebook.

Okay, I didn’t rigidly stick to this, there are a few people that I’ve spent many years talking to on Facebook that I have never met. Over those years of chatting they have become virtual friends  and I value that friendship, these people  I have left as personal friends on Facebook.
Now here is a funny story…

There were a couple of people  who I believed may have been friends on Facebook and that I’d never met in person, these select few people I decided to send a personal message to (Remember not to do this too often as your account may be blocked for spam), that personal message was:

Hi ,

I hope you don’t mind my unsolicited message, I’m in the process of separating out Facebook into people I know socially and people I know professionally, as I feel I know you professionally it would make sense that we continue to chat etc via my new professional profile www.facebook.com/markobornprofessional where I will continue to post nonsense, hats, coffee, Dorset and the occasional business post on dentistry plus life and business coaching also.

Please don’t take it as an insult but I have unfriended you (that’s such an awful phrase as it is so far from the truth) from my personal ‘social’ Facebook account, I look forward to seeing you and welcoming you on to my ‘professional’ account as and when. To join me on my professional account, please visit the page and click ‘like’.

Very kindest regards indeed,

Mark

To which someone replied:

No thank you Mark. You have never responded to any comment I have made on your posts, which tells me that you are either uninterested in the opinions of others, or have your head so far up your own derriere that you never even noticed. Either way, I doubt either of us adds value to the other so goodnight and thanks for the message.

Clearly, they weren’t friends in the first place and so I was happy to see the back of them. Interestingly, I sent EXACTLY the same message to someone else who replied:

Thank you for such a lovely message, Mark and what a great idea . Thank you. It just becomes overwhelming, doesn’t it ? it is a pleasure to be your professional Facebook friend.

It just goes to show, one can never tell how people will respond to the dreaded ‘unfriend’!

Step 5 – Begin using the new profiles in different ways

I now find that when I login to my personal Facebook account I can see posts from my friends, my family and what’s going on locally. It’s become a more welcoming, chatty and friendly pace to be. Sure, I see business posts from friends, but they are real friends  and I’m interested to know what they are talking about.

My Public Figure account has personal information on it (That I’m happy to share publicly) but because it is more business oriented it gets far more reaction from the business community, it is also growing far more rapidly than my personal account, which is absolutely fine by me.

What I do

  1. Facebook pages appI post personal updates about books I’m reading, things I like doing and where I’m visiting to both accounts. Sometimes I post to my personal account, sometimes I post to my business account, it is purely random.
  2. I post business updates to my new public figure account only.
  3. I use the regular Facebook app on my phone to log into my personal account. I am then very clear when I press this button that this is personal time.
  4. I use the Facebook Pages app (Downloadable from the Google Play store or similar on Apple) on my phone to log into my public figure account (these two accounts are linked and use the same Facebook login details). I am then very clear when I press this button that I am in business mode and it is during work time.

The benefits of separating personal and business life on Facebook

  1. Facebook becomes fun again. I can keep up-to-date with my personal life, friends, family and people I know without being interrupted about or having to think about work.
  2. Facebook becomes more productive for business. I’m able to advertise my Public figure, create unique status updates recommending that people send me messages or phone me.
  3. Create out of office messages using Facebook Response Assistant. A Facebook public figure allows you to set your status as ‘away’ for 12 hours, during this time It’s possible to automate responses if someone sends a message, far better than responding to a personal direct message on a personal account in the small hours of the morning!
  4. Get insights into your Public Figure. You will now be able to see the number of people that each of your posts has reached, the number of people that like your page, where they are and how engaged they are with each post. Very useful business analytics.
  5. Add labels to any messages. This enables you to tag messages from patients or clients with useful labels, consider using  treatment tags or ‘prospect’, ‘client’ etc
  6. Create events and have them all located in one place which is easily findable on your Public Figure profile page, e.g. https://www.facebook.com/pg/markobornprofessional/events/?ref=page_internal
  7. Get reviews. You may want patients to review you as an individual dentist, this is possible with a Public Figure profile. Here’s an example
  8. Balance life and work again and remove the incessant NOISE!


With a public figure page you can still engage with other local businesses, like them and chat with them,  the only thing you can’t do is engage or interact with individual people, unless they also have a public figure page or interact with your public figure in some way e.g.  commenting on a post.

It seems to me that using a public figure is far more ‘real to life’, in life we all know that we have a personal, friendly, family persona… We also have that business persona, the face we put on when we go to work… Separating Facebook out like this is far truer to real life, more congruent with real-life and keeps the work/life balance in harmony.

If you need help, please just comment here or ping me an e-mail  from the website, I’m happy to do what I can to assist.

Yours professionally and personally,

Mark