Should I Be on Facebook?

This is a reprint of a post I did in 2009 when Jenny Spadafora worked for Intuit. I liked her presentation and still do. Also, while three years ago is ancient history in digital terms, there are still those struggling with some very basic questions…which is to be expected. There are a lot of us after all, and communications is not everyone’s first priority (…hard for me to imagine, of course…but…) Even if you are media savvy, consider reading on. Sometimes getting back to basics is what you need when you’re feeling stuck or need to be reminded how you got to where you are in the first place… No matter who you are or why you’re here, the important thing is to remember is that you’ve got a story to tell…about your work

Jenny Spadafora is a cool human being.  She takes pictures, writes, thinks a whole bunch…I mean even her job is cool…her title is Web Evangelist at Intuit Software.  I met Jenny a couple of months ago at a networking meeting…(where else?!)  Being a web evangelist, she is all about networking…especially online networking through all those social media sites.

Jenny wrote a slide presentation called, “Should I be on Facebook?”  There’s a link to it here…

Not sure whether you want a Facebook presence? Think again…

.  It’s worth watching because it is so so simple and so personal and it really gives you a sense of why you probably do want to consider Facebook, or if not Facebook, then one of the many other social networking sites out there.  Lots of people feel that Facebook in particular is not a place where they want to be.  They feel it is risky, will give people too much access to their personal stuff, and might work against them in business.  Like Jenny, I feel Facebook, and all other social networking tools, are really what you make of them.  She talks about a continuum that involves the private, personal, work and public realms.  If you think about your presence in these ways, Jenny says you can choose how, whether, and where you see certain social networking tools fitting in your life.

So, why would you want to fit it in?  Well, Jenny points out that social networking online is actually good for introverts.  It can put you on a level playing field with others in your office, too, even if you work in a remote location.  I would go a bit further.  I think Facebook and all social networking is important, because in a way, it helps you compress time.  Consider all you have to do in a day.  It is really hard to keep up.  That bit Jenny says about helping to put you on a level playing field with others even if you don’t show up in the office…that works in lots of different ways.  Suppose for example you don’t have an office you go to, but are a freelance writer like me, or a consultant or contract worker.  Part of my job is really letting people know I exist, working to keep them aware of me, but also the things I do.  I suppose that’s always helpful whether you are inside a company or out.  You want people…busy people…to know you exist, that you are interested in what goes on, and that you are part of the conversation.  Social networking sites help keep your face in front of people, even if you never set foot in their physical space.

What conversation you ask?  Well, it doesn’t matter.  That’s where your private, personal, work, and public realms come into play.  If your interest is photography (like Jenny), then you get involved in websites and blogs that talk photography…you read, you learn, and you comment as you are comfortable.  If you don’t have time to devote to doing that, then maybe being part of that conversation is not something you really care about.  Maybe what matters to you is smart growth, or town politics, or schooling your children.  Whatever it is, there are social networking sites and groups and connections that will put you in touch with people who have similar interests but maybe very different thoughts.  Sharing thoughts is what it is all about.  Even if you don’t feel comfortable adding your ideas to the mix, you can learn a lot.  Still, getting involved is best because it does help you form connections and have a presence that matters…that shows you matter.

No time you say?  Well, Jenny addresses that, too.  She has a routine she follows everyday that takes her to each of the sites where she participates.  In her case, social networking is a specialty and so something she has to do as part of her job. She budgets time for visiting her sites and does it first thing every morning. But even if you’re not Jenny and consider social networking a luxury or leisure-time activity, think again.  A social networking habit of even 15 minutes a day can allow you to go to a site or two, scan updates and inputs, and make your presence known somehow.  This is where I think Facebook is great because even clicking a “like” icon shows you’re noticing what goes on…you are there and like so much of life, it is showing up that matters most.  Depending on the site you choose and how you set things up, you can have access to industry experts, thoughtleaders, customers, and constituents.  And what’s amazing about it, is that they can see you there, too, showing interest and eventually getting in on the conversation in ways that make sense for you.

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