Need to learn how to control your personal information, while also building your public presence online?
Here are a bunch of fabulous tips from WG2E Guest Contributor Joanne Phillips…
Privacy and Social Media – How To Control Your Personal Information
When I offered to write a post about social media and privacy, I was thinking specifically of Facebook. What was once just a neat way to keep up to date with friends and family has snowballed into a major player in brand marketing. Is FB still the place to be posting pictures of your kids’ nativity play or first day at school? What about those photos of you and the girls on a night out last week? Or the fact that you’ve just ‘liked’ a special offer on hold-it-all-in pants from Marks & Spencer? (I made that one up, honestly!)
In theory, Facebook’s ‘pages’ should have solved this problem. Keep your personal page personal, and use your fan page for readers and fellow authors, right? The problem is that FB won’t allow you to join any groups via your page. You have to use your personal account to interact in various essential ways. I made the decision a while back to link my personal page to my author persona, and deal with the consequences. Which are? Well, I have to think twice about the above mentioned photos now. And I don’t want to be marketing my book to my friends all the time, either.
I asked some pals of mine from the Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli) how they handled the tricky problem of privacy on FB. Here are some of their comments:
“I’m aware that I have writer “friends” on Facebook whom I don’t know overly well, though I don’t really increase my security because of that – I would never put my real date of birth online, nor a phone number, and I would never activate the location-specific software various social media sites use, nor would I ever announce I was going on holiday or post pictures from a holiday location whilst still there or anything else that indicates I’m out of the house.” Dan Holloway, writer and poet.
“I don’t even attempt to keep my 2 IDs separate. I only have a personal page on FB because you can’t have a business page without one, but I only post on my author page. I assume everything I put on FB is potentially public and post accordingly. I tend to assume anything I post online is public, especially since discovering that a forum in which I was posting about mental illness, was viewable by the public, though only members of the forum could actually post. I naively assumed that if you had to be a member to post, you had to be a member to view! Then I found one of my very personal posts via Google… I tend not to post anything I wouldn’t be happy to see on the front page of the Guardian.” Linda Gillard, bestselling indie author.
A good idea is to make use of lists. If you add close friends and family to a list, you can then choose to post personal photos or status updates only to the people on that list. You can also deselect the list if you don’t want friends to see yet another promotional post on FB.
So, what of Twitter, the other big social media giant right now. (I say right now because we all know how these forums come and go. MySpace anyone? Which is why some of the best advice I’ve ever read is to not put all your author eggs in one basket. Have your own hub, such as a blog or website, and maintain your own email list. That way if any of the social media sites go down for whatever reason, you haven’t lost access to readers in one fell swoop!)
Here is what author and book promotions expert Debbie Young has to say about Twitter:
“I have a Facebook page for my book and my book promotion work, but prefer to use Twitter to keep in touch with (and find) people I don’t know. Interestingly, practically none of my personal friends use Twitter unless they have some marketing need for it. I’ve been dithering about the potential crossover between my personal blog and my book-related blog, and they are increasingly converging. I don’t think you can make hard and fast rules about these various media.”
Great advice, and a good distinction – whereas FB started out as repository for personal information, Twitter is a more accepted medium for promotional or business-related interaction. That’s not to say you shouldn’t interact in a personal way on Twitter, but when it comes to privacy, it is easier to hide behind a public persona here.
A final thought before I end with a few Dos and Don’ts – following Instagram’s sudden decision to make use of its members’ photographs for its own marketing purposes, it’s wise to remember that when you upload content to a social media site, they own the content, not you. In a world where sharing information is easier than breathing, we should take a moment to consider what we are sharing, and who we’re sharing it with.
Do keep your locations private. Disable location-specific apps on your phone and computer.
Do check out the privacy options on every social media site you use. Facebook has them, and most of us don’t even know what they are.
Do use Facebook lists to choose who sees personal information or photos.
Don’t post anything, anywhere, that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. Or, as Linda Gillard said, that you wouldn’t want to appear on the front page of a national newspaper.
Don’t post about other people without getting their permission first. This include photos, quotes, or other any other information.
Don’t ever post dates of birth, phone numbers, addresses, bank details (!), even via Facebook messages or Twitter DMs.
So, over to you, WG2E-Land Peeps – what are your thoughts on social media and keeping private?
Joanne Phillips lives in rural Shropshire, England, with her husband and daughter. Since leaving school she’s had an eclectic career, working as a hairdresser, an air hostess and a librarian. She now writes full time, and her second novel, The Family Trap, is due for release on February 14 2013.
Find out more about Joanne’s writing and books at http://www.joannephillips.co.uk
Can’t Live Without links