B y now, most of us have hundreds of Facebook “friends.” But, many of them are acquaintances at best – people you crossed paths with at some juncture in life. It’s nice to stay connected with them but we don’t necessarily need to see a picture of their stubbed big toe or even their family crawfishing trip.
So of us go to Facebook less, and have even wondered about getting rid of your account.
Some of us spend more time now on Twitter, which is more private, idea driven, and professionally suited.
Or maybe we’d like to be able separate our personal and professional lives online, so we have the option to post to one or the other group, completely independently.
Or perhaps we’re wishing we had a little less personal history online, but don’t know how to remove anything short of manually deleting individual photos and status updates.
If you can relate to an of these scenarios, then maybe it’s time you made a change to your Facebook account. I did this exact thing, and learned a few things along the way. My friend Philip Santoro, a Product Specialist at Facebook, offered some consultation, and with his help I have outlined a set of options for you:
1 – Maintain your personal profile as is, and turn on the Follow feature.
This new feature allows people to follow your activity (a la Twitter) without the more formal status (and access) of “Friend.”
Click here to start letting people follow you, in addition to or without being your friend.
When you turn on this feature, all your friends become both your Friends and your Followers, meaning they’re still your friend, and they get your updates.
You can unfriend people you don’t want to have access to your entire profile. If you unfriend them, they will still be subscribed to your profile, which means they’ll get updates.
The advantages of this method are:
- You won’t cause a disruption or any confusion to your current list of friends.
- You keep your entire online history (this may be a pro or a con, depending on your point of view)
- You keep your entire friend list, developed or the past several years (again, the value of this depends on your goals).
- You only have to post to a single account.
This is Facebook’s currently recommend method for most users. It’s clean and seamless to your list of friends, but has some disadvantages as well, as we will see.
2 – Switch your Profile to a Page.
Ostensibly set up for public figures, Pages are actually a great middle ground between the original Facebook network, which is a bit of a free for all, and the more limited benefit of a Twitter feed.
This is a bit more radical and may not be for everyone. When you do this, you delete your entire Facebook history (good or bad, depending on your point of view), but you maintain your friends, who become followers to your public feed.
If you do this, you will need to start over with a separate, personal profile. The advantage of the Page approach is:
- It allows you to post publicly but not to your friends, so you don’t barrage family and close friends with your professional life
- You get data insights on your posts, which help you measure effectiveness, or what people care about and don’t care about
- Post promotion is easy, if you have business aspirations
- You delete your entire online history (but you keep it offline – you have an option to download everything first; in fact, if you want to wipe your account clean, this is a heckuva lot better approach than trying to delete your account)
My friend Philip says that while adding Follow is the best solution for people who have no entrepreneurial goals, if you hope to gain a maximum number of followers and visibility, then the page is a better strategy, for the reasons listed above, and for the simple reason that hundreds of people at the company are working to improve the Page approach, while the Follower feature is “sort of an afterthought.”
3 – Or you just delete your profile altogether…
but by now maybe you’ve learned this is basically impossible. Even if you deactivate, Facebook keeps your data.
I switched to a Page, and I’m glad I did.
As a writer, it’s important for me to maintain an online presence for my ideas. it’s a myth that publishers take care of the marketing of a writer’s ideas: a writer is his or her own champion. For this reason alone I needed to convert to a page; the additional benefits listed above made the decision easier, though it has been difficult.
I’d listened to a social media consultant on michaelhyatt.com suggest not doing this because it’s “wonky.” (She recommended starting a page from scratch and inviting them over. I don’t think that will work.) It is indeed a bit wonky and confusing. But the trouble is short term, and the benefits outweigh the hassle.
So I switched, and I’ve set up a second, personal account, and put my middle initial in it to differentiate it. I’ve labeled my Page with the moniker “Writer” (they give you several options for identifying yourself). I sent new friend requests to a small group of family, close friends, and church connections. As of this writing I have 65 family and friends on my personal account and I ultimately hope to keep this list to not more than 150 people.
The cost is temporary confusion to my close friends. But the benefits, as outlined above, outweigh the costs and position me to promote my upcoming book in the next few years.
And I get to remove a bunch of old personal info from the Internet, which is nice.
What is your plan for your Facebook account?