“Social Networking Privacy Settings – How would your Facebook status look on the front page of The Daily Mail?”

Earlier this week I attended a presentation at school about online safety for our children.  Run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation it was enlightening and, at times, disturbing.

I blogged about my thoughts on privacy settings the next day and after getting many comments and emails about the subject, I thought I would share some practical tips on how to get your social networking privacy settings right.

As many of you are dipping your toes in the social networking water – and in deed many of you are using the likes of Twitter and Facebook very effectively in your businesses – it appears that privacy settings, in particular Facebook’s, are confusing to a lot of people.

Before I start to go all doom and gloom on you, let’s put social networking in to context.  When you run your own business, it’s good to be visible on the web.  In today’s business world, finding you on Google is expected.  It’s frustrating to find that a business you want to work with has no website or easy way of getting contact details.

But when most of you are your business, where do you draw the line between your professional brand and your personal one?  And, more to the point, how do you manage this?

Let me give you a couple of examples.  You are at the school gates waiting for school to finish and you catch up with your Twitter feed.  You tweet that you are waiting to pick up your kids but you are careful about not mentioning the school name or the name of your children.  But … you haven’t switched off your location settings and your iPhone, which is a personal GPS system, has tagged your exact location and even given your followers a little Google map to show you where you are.

What about the photos you take and share on your Facebook profile?  Again, if you haven’t turned off that GPS setting on your Blackberry, you will be adding a location tag to each and every photo.  So those random photos of your morning coffee, lunchtime treats and view during your dog walk, could give away your day to day routine.  And who knows who may want to know that!

So here are my top tips on getting your privacy settings right:

Location settings on your smart phone

know how to switch it on and off so that only the right photos get tagged.  If you are a trade conference, you may want to let your network know you are there.  But perhaps that same network doesn’t need to know where your daily morning coffee stop-off is.

Location settings on your social profiles

geo-tagging and location updates are happening right now.  Facebook has recently launched it Places feature in the States and Twitter already offer it.  You will find that Facebook will have automatically opted you in and you have to physically turn it off.  It’s not right, but that is how it is at the moment.  So make sure you turn yours off if you don’t want it.

Friends’ Lists

by allocating certain Facebook friends to designated lists, you can split your Facebook updates so that only certain people can see certain posts and photos.  This is particularly useful for those of you who use your personal profile to promote your business, rather than a business page.

For example, I have a list called “real friends and family” – no offence to my online friends but these are the people who know me, my children, where I live and my social diary – and these people can see some updates that I don’t allow the rest of my Facebook friends to see.  It allows me to be professional and personal to the right people.

Facebook privacy settings are complicated, but when you drill down you will find you can have total control over what different people see.

Get tagged by someone you don’t want tagging by?

being tagged on a photo, video or article means that there is a direct web link to your profile from that photo, as well providing information to Google to help index your name and show up in web searches.  And sometimes we don’t particularly want to be associated with that drunken photo from Saturday night!  If your online friend won’t remove it, then you can de-tag yourself and remove that link.

Know your professional and personal line

have clear and simple rules to what you post online.  Be aware though, that however tight you set your privacy settings, what ever you do upload, can be shared and seen by others if someone really wants access to this information.  I have a rule that I never post anything on the web that I wouldn’t be happy with being plastered over the front page of the Daily Mail (my least favourite of the rags!).

For example, what about your Facebook photo?  How would that look on the news stands along with a statement that you wrote in a fit of rage, temporary insanity or any other emotion that may result in a slight lose of judgement?

Don’t let ignorance get you in to trouble.  Make it your responsibility to ensure you take the time to know and set your privacy settings.

How-To Video Link:

If you want a quick tour of the latest Facebook privacy settings, there is a video on my new Facebook page that I uploaded this week.  Click here and you will see it posted on the wall. And while you are there, do clickety-click on the “Like” button.  There will be plenty more articles and how-to videos coming soon.

Have your say: If you have a comment to make or want to share your thoughts on privacy settings, click here to hop on over to my blog and leave a comment at the end of this article.

Link to Lucy Faithfull Foundation:  www.LucyFaithfull.org

About Author:
Karen Skidmore helps small business owners work smarter and use the right marketing tools so they can attract more of the right clients to their business. To subscribe to her free email newsletter and get access to practical advice and marketing ideas that will move your business forward, visit www.CanDoCanBe.com

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