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Why You Need a Personal Social Media Policy

Taking Control of How You Connect in an Overly-Connected World Can be Liberating

What’s your personal social media policy? Who do you connect with and where? Are you friends with your manager, VP or the CEO of your company on Facebook, or do you limit them to LinkedIn? What about your team? Your clients? Do you control who can follow you on Instagram or are you open to everyone? What about Snapchat?

I realize that was probably more questions than you’d like to answer, and you also may not have the answers to them because it doesn’t matter much to you at all. I will tell you that I do have a personal social media policy and regularly decline friend requests on Facebook and as of late, have declined more LinkedIn connection requests than ever in the past because of a new trend where people are seeking connections just to sell me on something irrelevant to me or my business. (I wrote about this on my old blog back on January 5, 2011, and have been encouraging it since before then, so for me this is not a new concept.)

I’ve even accepted then removed a LinkedIn connection after being blasted with a message that is unhelpful and indicative of them not seeking to find out more about me before committing what feels like a random act of spam. (There’s no excuse for that given how much you can find out about a person through their LinkedIn profile.)

To give you an idea of what I mean, I will share some components of my personal social media policy here. It’s straightforward and won’t take long to read.

Facebook: This is where I share pictures of my daughters and other aspects of my life as a mom, daughter, friend, niece, gymnastics and theatre mom, and someone celebrating a freshman in high school and a freshman in college. I use the check-in feature at the gym and when I’m hanging out with my girls and have been doing that for years. There is so much about my life here that I have to be mindful of who I want to be exposed to it. So I’m selective. When it comes to colleagues, I will be FB friends with them once we cross over and become friends in real life. In a nutshell, if we don’t have a strong personal relationship, we cannot be Facebook friends.

I’m going to take a break and put forth a question you might be having right now. “But what do I do when someone asks me face-to-face why I haven’t accepted their friend request or they want to connect on the spot and I’m not sure?” Well, tell them you only connect with family and close friends, or whatever your policy is and offer to connect elsewhere. That’s my answer because you have the right to connect how you please. Now, back to some parts of my policy:

LinkedIn: I don’t have to know you personally, but I do like when we have shared connections. I do not accept connections from people or accounts that seem shady or if I can immediately tell they only want to sell me. If they don’t have a picture or a last name, that too is a red flag.

Twitter: I’m totally open. Well, except for anything X-rated.

Instagram: I’m only open to people I know. I’m not selling anything or trying to become an Influencer, so there’s not a lot of interest in me on this platform in the first place. (Sidebar: Are you familiar with the “Finsta” phenomenon created by teens? That’s a “Fake” Instagram account or alter-ego that they use to post things they don’t want to say on their main Instagram accounts. I know this because I have teen daughters, and they are always telling me about what someone posted on his or her “Finsta.” I am not the demographic for this, so I have no policy recommendations. However, I wouldn’t suggest a Finsta for anyone reading this.

Snapchat: I’m there for the filters and because I have to use these channels if I am going to advise businesses on how they should do the same. But much like Instagram, no one is really looking for me other than my friend who sent me a birthday message that I didn’t see for days.

My point here is that you do have some control, and you can decide how you want to leverage social platforms and do it on your own terms. Just because someone wants to be in your space doesn’t mean you have to let them in. Just give it some thought, and let me know if you have a policy or may start thinking about it.

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