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Managing your personal and professional presence on Facebook through Friend Lists

Now you can have your cake and tag yourself in a photo eating it, too

Fellow CisionBlog blogger Jay Krall and I did a free Cision Social Media Webinar yesterday on Engaging Social Media. When I suggested that most people should limit themselves to one handle on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks and embrace the chaos of belonging to multiple groups, quite a few listeners disagreed. I mentioned that I don’t allow friends to tag me drinking beer on Facebook.  Adam immediately asked, “But if you keep your profile clean… how do you keep  up with your friends who might be interested to see pics of you drinking a beer or dancing at a wedding? Wouldn’t a seperate handle be a better idea …?” On Twitter, Lindsey, a recruiter, wrote, ” I have two seperate accounts for Facebook; one personal and one professional. I’m myself on both, but I recruit with one… I feel better knowing that my candidates don’t see what I’m personally doing, just what I’m professionally interested in.”

Initially, my response was to say that as a brand representitive for Cision in social media, I realize that I am a company spokeswoman and must adhere to a professional standard in social media that most others do not. However, I totally understand the desire – particularly on Facebook – to be your true self with your true friends and not worry about brand reputation.

So last night, I did what I should have done a long time ago: I created Friend Lists for all my Facebook connections. This is a great way to maintain both a personal and professional presence from one handle. You can decide who sees tagged photos, wall posts and more. Here are some simple instructions. (If you have more than a few hundred friends, this can take quite awhile to set up initially.)

Go to the Friends tab at the top of your Facebook page and click “Create List”

FB-Friends Tab

A pop-up box will open and you can name your list (I chose really simple names like “Close Friends & Family” and “Work Colleagues & Social Media Friends”). Next, you can page through all of your friends and click on the people you want to add to the list. Don’t worry, you can easily add or delete people from the Friends tab at a later date.FB - List Selection

Once you have created your lists, go to the Settings tab on the top right-hand corner of your page. Click on “manage” under Privacy and you will see options to edit your settings for Profile, Search, News Feed & Wall and Applications. All of these are great places to use those friend lists you’ve created, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on Profile. Check out everything you can edit from here:

FB - Privacy Settings2

Under any of those options, select “Customize” from the drop-down menu. A new pop-up box will open up. You can now type in the friend lists you want to include or exclude from that particular setting.

FB - Privacy Settings

You can also do this for photos and videos on a case-by-case basis. Maybe the photos from that recent communicators conference you went to can be shared with everyone, but you want the bachelor party shots to remain private. When you create an album on Facebook, just select the friend lists that you would like to be able to view the album.

This is all about keeping it clean, but friend lists are great for controlling your feed, too… that way you can check out what’s going on with a particular group. For more on this, check out a terrific post from Connie Reece: Use Facebook Friend Lists to Create Custom News Feeds.

Let me know your successes/frustrations with Facebook friend lists. I’m a newbie and loving them so far.

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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