To Friend or Not To Friend: All Part of Personal and Professional Brand and Reputation Management

Social Media is a great way to network, create your brand, interact with a community, and through genuine shared interests and interactions perhaps reach a client base. Or at the very least, create an environment where people want to talk about you in a positive light and refer you, your product, or your business to their friends.

Isn’t that the gist of it?

Well, sometimes I find myself wondering, am I branding myself, my company, or the products I sell. (houses) When it gets right down to it the answer is all three. My reputation is tied up in the company because the service I give reflects both myself, and who I represent. In many ways the company reflects back on me because if I’m saying this is a great home, this is a great builder and it’s not…well than who will trust me and how will I come across? I wouldn’t sell the homes for my company or represent them if I didn’t believe in what I sell. (believe me I don’t make enough money to put aside my own values!) Which actually brings me to another point.

It wouldn’t be easy to promote myself, tied with my company and our products if I couldn’t stand behind any of those three elements. It would come across fake, and sales-y (yes I just created a new word. Check Websters for it, they now have unfriend too.) So we are not just talking about branding, but reputation management as well.

Out in the social media stream there are so many ways a brand can be affected by negative PR. Even if there are only 1 or 2 unhappy people out of the 100’s and 100’s of buyers, it’s going to be that squeaky wheel that is heard above the SM din. How does this reflect on me as a representative of the company? I’m still working on that one because you can’t please everyone all the time. You can try, and I do, and I think we as a company do, however we all have our limitations.

So with branding myself and my company wrapped up with reputation management for both of us, I come to that age old question: do I use my facebook account for friends or for networking?

I’m still having trouble crossing over. Not that there are incriminating pictures of me, nor do I drop the *F bomb on my fb page. I do have the occasional political or religious debate with my cousin and I think those elements should be kept out of business. I tend to cringe when people I’m networked with for business quote bible scripture on their fb pages. For me it seems like something that should be left out if you choose to use fb for business. But that’s just my opinion.

Since using my fb page for more networking I’ve had to keep the occasional rant about work down to a minimum. We all have those days, but now we may not want them on display because it could effect how present and future business associates and clients view us. One day it could just jump right back up and be taken out of context at the wrong place and the wrong time.

I’m still not sure how much I like friend requests from total strangers who seem to know several people that I do in the industry, or networking community that I have chosen to let in to my facebook.

Add to that, that the majority of the time people don’t tell you what their agenda is for sending you a friend request. There’s space to add a personal note. If you don’t know someone personally this would be the place to introduce yourself and explain why you’d like to be friends.

Cara Mandart wrote a great blog post, Friend Request Manners I highly urge you to read it if you have any questions about the proper etiquette when requesting a friend that you don’t know. I still have a hard time letting go of facebook as a more intimate gathering of friends, family and acquaintances I’m willing to let into my life. And if you don’t even want to tell me why you are requesting my friendship I’m 100 times less likely to accept you as a friend. Maybe facebook should create an acquaintance level…

To friend or not to friend, that is the question. The more people you let into your facebook family, the more you have to manage your brand and your reputation. Both personal and professional.