Struggling with Facebook Statuses

I have recently been receiving quite a bit of traffic to this website from those who have specific questions about Facebook functionalities. If YOU are one of those people, I am more than happy to do my best to answer your question. To do so, simply submit it here.

If you’ve talked to me lately, you’ve probably heard about my frustration with Facebook status updates.

When the updates were first added as a Facebook feature during the Spring of 2006, the site was still only open to those with .edu addresses.

In fact, I distinctively remember first discovering status updates. I accidently put “Julie is Jeff’s” rather than “Julie is at Jeff’s” as one of my first statuses. They were that new that it was before I instinctively translated my thoughts into third-person snippets and formatted them to fit the “Julie is…” standard. I didn’t catch the error until Jeff pointed it out to me. And I remember being hugely embarrased by my Freudian slip. But I digress…

In the Spring of 2006, Facebook was still unknown to the general public and only used by college students. Status updates were to social networks what away messages had been to Instant Messaging services… And users weren’t afraid to push boundaries and include “not-for-adult-eyes” content since, well, there weren’t any adult eyes to see it.

But, here we are, three years later, and the landscape of social networks has obviously changed. Our safe playground is no more.

Currently, my status updates can only be seen by my “wide inner circle”… I’m still defining what that means, and I promise it’s the subject of a half-written blog post on Facebook privacy, but let’s just say that these are the people who are my “friends” and/or my high school and college classmates. Family members, colleagues and professional contacts compromise the majority of those excluded. Now, let’s be honest, as someone whose profession is the mastery of social media, I understand the consequences associated with anything created online – whether it has been restricted to certain users or not. As a result, my updates have evolved to be, for the most part, pretty benign. But I still don’t think my colleauges need to know when I’ve had a late night out and am struggling to keep up in the morning. (Not that I do that… frequently.)

Facebook Status Update

But, by restricting these updates, I’m effectively limiting the power of Facebook since the focus of the site has shifted to exactly this feature  in the latest redesign. And the whole thing is compounded by the fact that Status and Shared Link privacy is a single control (also the subject of an upcoming blog post). Everyone who can’t see my statuses also can’t see my shared links. Let’s take a step back and think about this – a lot of the content I’m sharing on Facebook is local, since that’s what affects my daily life. Now, guess which of my Facebook contacts would benefit most from this content? Would it be the high school and college classmates who have now scattered all over the country, or would it be my colleagues and professional contacts who are DC-based? You see what I’m getting at?

So why not just give in, realize that Facebook has evolved, and open up my status to everyone? Well, because, that’s not how I’ve chosen to use Facebook. Instead, that’s how I leverage the power of my Twitter account. I use Twitter primarily in a professional capacity, sharing useful links and remembering that I must be well-behaved and well-spoken at all times. My Facebook friends DON’T CARE about developments in my industry. They want to know what’s happening in my personal life – presicely the information that my professional contacts don’t need to see…

What it comes down to is that I’m struggling, as is everyone else, to find a balance between managing my personal and business contacts. And when things are so interwoven (since you can bet that everyone in the Social Media space is on Facebook), things aren’t so easy.