If you manage your Facebook, you’re building a brand. I’m not talking about your professional, job-getting brand. I’m not talking about a brand as a means of advertising. What I mean is this: the kind of posts you put out to your friends’ timelines define your online presence in their eyes. You are a columnist on their personal friend newspaper. What kind of column are you writing?
In my last job at a small social media advertising agency, I learned a lot about how small businesses create an online presence. However, the principles behind who you are online are just as relevant – perhaps even more so – if you’re just keeping a personal Facebook page. When a business puts out spam, its customers can just unlike the page and move on. When your friends see spam, they’re less likely to just unfriend you. Instead, you leave a lasting, unpleasant impression in their minds that may impact their “IRL” perception of you.
Because I spend a lot of time paying attention to which of my friends posts what, I’ve intuitively learned to anticipate what sorts of posts are coming from whom. There’s the “OMG look at my brand new TOTES ADORBZ relationship” person. There’s the inspirational quotes girl. There’s the vaguely-unsettling-song-lyrics guy. There are friends who only post news articles. There are friends who will repost any spreading piece of viral content.
So, what are you posting, and more importantly, why? Ask yourself that question before you hit the “share” button, because every piece of irrelevant content you put out there lowers your social media standing. That may sound like a strong statement, because “dude, it’s just Facebook,” but think about it: we spend hours a day on FB, it’s how we keep up with our friends, and when we build trust in somebody who posts good things, we’re that much more likely to actually pay attention. When a friend posts a steady stream of trash, we treat him/her like the boy who cried wolf and ignore.
I keep talking about “spam,” “irrelevant content,” and “trash,” but what do I actually mean? While there’s no universal answer, think about who your audience is. What do your friends actually care to see? Surely, there’s a record-keeping, journal-like aspect to FB (pictures, videos, check-ins, etc.) but, if you’re posting a piece of content you are excited about, ask yourself: will your friends be? I had a friend who reposted every funny picture he found on 9GAG, Tickld, and other funny-pic websites. I couldn’t take it anymore. I unsubscribed. On the flipside, I have a young lawyer friend who posts cool articles captioned by his clever, witty thoughts on them. I’m excited to see his name in my newsfeed every time.
I encourage you to keep your Facebook clean, sparse, and relevant. Are you a bio-chem major? Find relevant articles written in layman terms that would be interesting to your friends. Do you play competitive tennis? Perhaps you can share content to help your friends improve their overall athleticism. Is bird-watching a hobby? This may be a generalization, but most people don’t care about exotic birds. Everyone loves a beautiful photo, though.
Remember, you’re writing a column to your friends’ newspapers. If your column is riddled with a mix of YouTube videos, baby pictures, inspirational quotes and “Share If You Agree” posts, they’ll stop reading. They might stop being friends with you, too.
So, what’s your personal Facebook brand?