by Holly West
Lately, I've been thinking about changing the way I use Facebook. When I first got into social media, I was pretty good at keeping my professional life separate from my personal life. Twitter was for professional--meaning I followed lots of different people, most of whom I'd never met in person, and kept it pretty much writing related. Facebook was for family and friends, people I knew in real life and didn't mind sharing personal details with.
Six or seven years later, all of that has gone out the window. For one thing, I've met (in person) so many of the writers I previously knew only online. It makes sense that I'd be friends with them on Facebook. There are many people I haven't yet met in person but through social media, a genuine friendship has developed. I'm cool with sharing my personal Facebook page with them, too.
But over time, there's been a gradual expansion of my criteria for accepting friendship requests. It used to be that I only friended people I had personal experience with. Then I began friending people who I was familiar with through the larger writing community but hadn't necessarily interacted with myself. After that, things kind of just exploded, like that shampoo commercial: "And they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on..." Suddenly I'm friends with a load of people I have no real connection with, other than--possibly--writing and/or reading.
To be honest, I'm not all that wary of someone using the information I share for nefarious purposes, although I'm aware that does happen, probably with more frequency than I'd like to acknowledge. But my Facebook feed has become unwieldy and while I have the option of removing someone from my feed while still remaining friends, I'm not comfortable with knowing there are strangers out there who might be reading my personal posts and I have no idea who they are.
I'm not sure how to remedy the problem, however. Some people I know have stated outright that they're culling their friendships on Facebook and directing people to their author/professional page. I'm cool with that in principle, but if I did it I might feel a little jerky. Like--hey, you're not good enough to be my real friend but hop on over here and buy my books. Mind you, I'm not criticizing my friends who've done this--it seems like a reasonable solution to the problem.
Another solution might be to assume that if I unfriend someone who I don't actually know, without announcing it beforehand, they won't miss me in the first place. No harm, no foul, as the say. But that seems kind of dickish, too.
One thing I've always had trouble with is determining what to post on my author page versus what to post on my personal page. If it's related to my books, then of course I should post it on my author page, right? But what if I want a larger audience to see it? Facebook has changed the way it presents promotional posts, so posts to my author page receive only a fraction of the viewership and interaction that my personal page does. Sometimes I end up posting something to my author page then sharing it on my personal page as a result.
With all of this said, I often think, wow, this is only Facebook. Get a freaking life, Holly. Then I change nothing, and a few months later, I'm thinking, "I really should do something about my Facebook page."
How do you handle Facebook with regard to personal and author pages? Shower me with your wisdom, please.