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Personal Branding: Optimise your FaceBook Profile for Business

Thanks to its [tag]social-networking abilities[/tag] and sponsored applications Facebook has become one of the most prominent websites in the world in a record amount of time. Sceptics already predict the fall of the platform, stating that it will inevitably follow the same route as MySpace and become less trendy (therefore used) over time, as other social networking websites appear. (the next one I have in mind being perfspot.com, which I consider to be like an RSS feed or a Google alert that shows you stuff people liked, in the given categories you selected- no need for a search engine for entertainment!)

But back to facebook, and today’s post instead of next week’s!

Facebook is mostly used for personal matters, but is increasingly acquiring linkedin’s market of business consumers who use social networking for business. Even we here at site Visibility, we recently used [tag]Facebook[/tag] as an advertising channel for a job vacancy we are interviewing for. I have used these platforms for personal and [tag]professional branding[/tag], and wanted to explain how to use your facebook profile to advertise your professional life, instead of your personal one. These tips will therefore work particularly well if you don’t have a personal life!

An optimized-for-business profile will look a little something like this:

It’s organised, concise, has all the contact and professional information including digg stories, sphinn hot topics, blogs submitted and it is laid out in such a way that the eye is attracted towards the ‘education and work’ section.

Instead of a random personal page that will look something like this:

What does this one say about you apart from the fact that you have enough time on your hands to download widgets and applications?

  • Analysing your flaws:

Yes, we all have flaws. We are aware of most of them, but some flaws you thought had disapeared when you turned 26 might come back to haunt through facebook in the form of an old friend listing that “you dated but are not talking anymore”. You obviously do not want your professional contacts to see this information, as even if the information is pretty harmless, it can associate negative connotations with you through the virtual representation of you.

So now you know what needs to be changed, lets go over how you can change it in order to optimise your facebook profile for business.

  • Facebook Apps say something about you.

If everyone on facebook had the same profile, then it would be an incredibly dull website. Probably as dull as [tag]linkedin[/tag], although linkedin does have some strong functionality. But how to you get any kind of [tag]branding[/tag] done through facebook (I hear you ask)?

When you have created your profile, and over time selected applications, you noticed that these apps appeared in three places: as text under your picture, as icons under this same text, and in the main body of the profile, as expandable windows. That is already a lot of space allocated to only one application! This is because the facebook application creators want their creations to be distributed virally, and must therefore make it memorable by any means.

But the main point is that each application you allow to encroach on your profile will say something about you in three different ways.

For example: The ‘Likeness’ application is one that allows you to compare yourself with you friends on several topical issues like drinking, films etc… However, when you have this app installed on your profile, its icon will apear under your photo, which is a blonde woman looking like… she is in a very hot room.

So make sure that if you are going to use your profile for professional purposes, you have a minimum amount of applications installed, otherwise your facebook profile will look cluttered and unclear, just like a MySpace profile (which is sooo yesterday don’t you know…)

  • Re arrange your profile’s layout

So once you have stripped your profile to a bare minimum of applications, and only selected the ones that carry some professional connotations (digg app, twitter app etc..) you can start playing around with how they are layed out on your page in orer to make the most things appear at the top of your page. Think about it as a landing page, you want to be precise, simple, yet catchy.

Which information to you want to be displayed first? For a blogger for example, you could have your hot digg items at the top of the page if you wanted to show off your digs, or it could be a whiteboard friday video on your super wall if you are part of SEOmoz… Find a piece of content that truly defines you and what you do (video, blog, manifesto, favouritre quote) and make it stand out by placing it at the top of your page.

  • Prune your messages

Finally, a lot of people tend to keep the messages they receive, whether emails or wall posts on facebook. I find that is quite a curious practice, as unless a document is usefull, or will come handy in the future, I tend to delete to save some space, whether on my hard drive or on my facebook profile. After all, I have read the message, I have got all the information I needed, so why should I leave the content of the message online for everyone to read?

It’s not even about privacy issues, it’s just about what you display about yourself; if facebook is some sort of ‘card’ that you can give out on a slightly more personal level than your linked in ID, people you know on facebook could be related through business and you might want them to see. the way you spend your weekends…

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12 Comments
  • Kelvin on September 28, 2007

    I think you’re onto something eloi, there’s a difficult balancing act people have to make between the professional and the personal on facebook.

    You have to think first, I’ve had plenty of mates slagging off how they are bored at work, which their boss might find. And I saw the classified jobs section is a diaster waiting to happen for a few people!

  • Kelvin on September 28, 2007

    I think you’re onto something eloi, there’s a difficult balancing act people have to make between the professional and the personal on facebook.

    You have to think first, I’ve had plenty of mates slagging off how they are bored at work, which their boss might find. And I saw the classified jobs section is a diaster waiting to happen for a few people!

  • Boris on September 29, 2007

    More food for thought…

  • Boris on September 29, 2007

    More food for thought…

  • Rob Cuesta on October 7, 2007

    Very good points Eloi. Personally I advise clients not to use Facebook for business because there are a lot more risks than benefits, though there are a few steps people can take to keep their business profile ‘clean’ – I posted on the topic on my blog a couple of weeks ago

  • Rob Cuesta on October 7, 2007

    Very good points Eloi. Personally I advise clients not to use Facebook for business because there are a lot more risks than benefits, though there are a few steps people can take to keep their business profile ‘clean’ – I posted on the topic on my blog a couple of weeks ago

  • Eloi on October 8, 2007

    Rob you are right, I think at the moment it is more benefitial to use places like linked in rather than facebook for business, however of you do have business contacts on facebook, it can be life saving to optimize your page a little!

  • Eloi on October 8, 2007

    Rob you are right, I think at the moment it is more benefitial to use places like linked in rather than facebook for business, however of you do have business contacts on facebook, it can be life saving to optimize your page a little!

  • Marc on October 10, 2007

    I think Facebook can be used on a business level, but I would be more interested in creating usable groups and applications than my own personal profile. A group can be business orientated, leaving only friends to view your personal profile. I have already had great success through this.

  • Marc on October 10, 2007

    I think Facebook can be used on a business level, but I would be more interested in creating usable groups and applications than my own personal profile. A group can be business orientated, leaving only friends to view your personal profile. I have already had great success through this.

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