“We cannot live only for ourselves.  A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.”

                                                                                                       ~ Herman Melville

I was talking with my 8th grade students recently about some pretty basic social media protocols.  In the process of telling them what they should do with their privacy settings and why, I also shared why I use my Facebook settings differently than they do.

keep-calm-subscribeI pointed out that as a business owner and entrepreneur, I have people reach out to me and want to connect with me for reasons that are entirely different than why they might have people that want to connect with them.  For most teens, Facebook is all about getting the most “friends.”

For me, my personal profile isn’t about collecting “friends” at all.  In fact, I’ve recently started to delete people that I have no or very little interaction with.  To me, my personal Facebook page is just that…personal.

I no longer accept friend requests.  About a year ago, I would personally respond to friend requests with a personal note explaining why I wouldn’t be connecting and inviting them to follow me over at my fan page.

And then Facebook added the “subscriber” feature (which they now call the “follow” feature).  I know for many, the whole subscriber thing doesn’t really make much sense.  But if you’re a business owner, or a speaker, or a coach, or someone that spends time in the public eye, that subscriber/follower feature is awesome.

Before I go into what makes it so great, let’s take a step back here and talk about a few more specifics about why I don’t connect with “business” connections with my Facebook profile…

I’m sure we’ve all seen one person or another that we know in real life (maybe an old friend or relative) that never posts anything personal from their account. Instead, they post all their business goings on.  You never know what they’re up to, how the kids are, if they survived the latest storm, that they got a new car, etc.  But you do know that they’re selling this thing and that thing, and their speaking here and speaking there.  But that’s all you really know.

Thing is, to me…that’s spam.  They’re spamming their friends and their family.  We didn’t agree to be sold to.  We didn’t ask to be sold to every time we turn on Facebook.  We connected with them because we’re friends, or we’re family. Not because we want to work with them or buy from them.   In many cases (if not most cases), we were “friends” long before their business got up and running.

No, that sort of business should be conducted on their official business page.  This is why Facebook created fan/business pages so that people had a choice in how they interacted with others.  In fact, truth be told, they’re breaking Facebook’s terms of service and are at risk for having their account closed down (and all those “friends” will be lost).

Now, I will admit that everything I just said is a huge pet peeve of mine.  But again, it also happens to be against the terms of service.

So jumping ahead…Facebook now allows you to have “subscribers”.  This means you can pick and choose different posts, updates, files and photos to share in a more public way…beyond just your friends.

So how does this affect you and your business?  Well, as I’ve said many times before (and I know I’ll continue to say it many more times to come), we all do business with those we know, like and trust.  And some people like to feel like they really have a chance to get to know someone.

With “subscribers” you can now share any specific post publicly.  You can set your default setting to “friends only” (which I suggest doing to avoid hiccups and mishaps) and get as personal as you want.  But from time to time, you can make a public post to share with your “subscribers”.

I like to think of this sort of post as something that I would share on Twitter.  Something I wouldn’t be embarrassed if someone read or happened upon.  This then allows your “fans” (clients, customers, your peeps, etc.) to feel like they really do know you better.

Now I don’t share everything publicly.  But then again, I also make sure I share something a couple times a day. Maybe I’ll talk about my pets, or how I missed my husband on Valentine’s Day because he missed his flight.  Or I’ll talk about a great book I just read or a movie I saw.  Not the sort of thing that I would normally share on my business/fan page.

The “subscribe” button really is a great tool.  You can be meeting new people and building new relationships all while keeping your personal life more private and your business life over on its own page.

Do yourself a favor and activate this feature (it can be turned or off by visiting your subscriber tab – facebook(.)com/yourusernamehere/subscribers).  The good news, anyone that sends you a friend request automatically becomes a “subscriber” so you no longer have to spend that time telling people that you don’t know that you won’t be their “friend”.

You can see who I follow and  subscribe to here – including some of the Facebook lists I follow.

ACTION PLAN: Change your settings to allow for people to subscribe to your Facebook and plan a public post or two to share with your new friends.