If you’re like most people, you use your Facebook profile to connect with friends and family. But you may also connect with coworkers or business contacts, like I do. Are you conscious of what you’re posting on Facebook, given the mixed audience? Your profile might be telling more about you than you realize.
In a study released by Millennial Branding and Identified.com, more than 50 million Facebook data points were studied, and what this data revealed might surprise you. While the study focused on Generation Y’s use of Facebook, I think it speaks to what many of us are doing on the social site as well.
Every field you fill out on your Facebook profile reveals something about yourself. Where you work, your job title, how long you held past positions…all is fair game for a potential employer or client who is searching you on the Internet.
Millennial Branding’s study shows that, for Gen Y at least, the average time worked at a job is just over two years. While shorter job stints are a characteristic of Gen Y, it’s not something likely to impress a potential employer.
Tread Lightly With the Overshares
In addition to the professional information you’re sharing (or not sharing: 64% of those studied didn’t even list their current employer on their Facebook profiles), personal updates can also create a wedge between you and your professional life. The average person on Facebook has about 16 co-worker “friends” on their profiles, yet often still share personal details of their lives.
But what about that rant about your boss that a co-worker sees and tells her about? Or the update on you playing hooky from work? No matter what you’re sharing, it’s important to remember your audience. With the employment situation being what it is, there’s no sense in putting yourself in a precarious position by sharing the wrong sentiment on your Facebook page and putting your job in jeopardy. There are examples of people being fired over what they posted on Facebook, and companies are paying more attention to social media updates.
Walking the Line
It’s true, we’re becoming a sharing society. And while it’s fine to share details of your life with business contacts, be aware of their potential impact. Focus on comments that won’t put your career at risk. My tip? Only post things you wouldn’t be ashamed of your mother reading. It’s fine to let co-workers and business contacts see the personal side of your life, but share with filters. Or use Facebook’s feature that lets you target who sees an update.
Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, offers these tips when sharing on Facebook:
- Don’t reveal anything on Facebook that you don’t want to be the topic of office gossip the next morning.
- Turn on your privacy settings and put your co-workers into a separate group that you can only send certain information to.
- Have set rules ahead of time as to who you add and who you don’t.
- Be mindful of your status updates and think twice before you post.
- Clean up your online image and make it a bit more professional.
Read the full Gen Y and Facebook study and tell us, do you share details of your personal life with business contacts? Do you ever share too much?