Facebook Is Not For Professional Communication

You know how much I adore social media. Facebook is one of my favorite tools in the whole world … somewhere between Android and being in control of the remote.

But I just “go nuts” when people use Facebook’s email as a tool of professional communication.

First, it is difficult to format messages so what is supposed to convey critical information can just become a blur of words with no paragraph breaks or even … to help my eyes adjust. That’s fine when its my college roomie BJ checking in.

Second, it is difficult to forward, print, file FB email messages.  

Third, is it difficult to control the privacy settings. We all hate mass email and I tend to “leave the conversation” before I’ve barely read the conversation. See items one and two for more explanation.

Fourth, finding an old FB message is tough. With gmail, outlook, even AOL – I can organize and sort and so forth. I don’t want to try and learn how to do that on FB.

Now Facebook is fine to send links, add comments, chat, and basically “network” … but being at a networking event is different than being in a project meeting. And the tools are different.

I understand that younger adults may be leaving email in the 2000’s and using FB to communicate. But I’m 41 and I’m drawing a line in the sand. My typical response is to ask to move the conversation to email and then follow up by initiating email contact. I archive the messages, maybe cut and paste and don’t look again.

Here are some good examples of when Facebook causes problems.

Mary Smith tells me “Oh you should chat with Katy X. She’s doing an event/activity/project that you’d love to support.” So I find Katy X’s page. Only to discover that Katy does not accept messages from people who are not her FB friends. So right there – Facebook is useless as a way to even begin to network much less engage in project planning. Its the exact opposite of networking to force people to publicly post comments on event pages saying “please get in touch with me” … it makes people feel excluded and unwanted and that’s not professional.

Adding me as a friend doesn’t solve the problem. Then I’m part of the exclusive group and I don’t like that.

You have to choose – is Facebook for friends only or a tool to connect with the world? Any good marketing person will tell you that the more steps people have to take to connect with you, the less likely you are to “close the deal” … that’s true in social media, too. If Mary Smith says I should reach out, I’ll try. But I’m not going to try THAT hard. If you want it to be friends only, don’t invite the public to watch. Seriously. Its like high school.

Finally, when I ask you not to send me messages through Facebook or other medium, I have a reason. I’m happy to share it with you. But I have my email set up so I can manage communication. I have multiple addresses and that’s fine. But my disability makes using email the most effective means for me to communicate. When you ignore my request, you might not just being a smart-alec about your hipster sensibilities, you might be dissing someone who has a very real disability. Do you ever stop to think about that? Should I have to explain it? No, but I just did. So if you are thinking I am writing this about you, you are right. This has happened FIVE TIMES in one week. So if I asked you once not to do it, know that your unwillingness to accommodate a perfectly reasonable request – OR IGNORE IT – was the final straw.

Facebook is awesome, but it is not a replacement for email. So I’m drawing the line in the sand. For people that know me, use email. I’m willing to give “new” friends the benefit of the doubt, but if you contact me and say “I sent you that document last week” and you sent it by Facebook … I probably didn’t see it. Because Facebook is not intended to be a professional tool. It is a social tool.

If you’ve ever had a disability, you might realize that we are always in the “must adapt” seat – adapt equipment, adapt, lifestyles, careers, income, medication, even how to hold a cup. Don’t try to make me adapt Facebook (or LinkedIn etc) because you have an email resistance of some unexplained origin. At the very least, tell me about it. I’m open and willing to learn. But I tend to assume that since email has been in general use for almost 30 years, its pretty adaptable. I could be wrong.

But I can promise I won’t ignore you if you ask me to use a certain means of communication. I may explain why I can’t do it, but I won’t ignore you.

 

Facebook can be a useful hybrid to take care of business and have a great social life. But it isn’t an one-stop-shop. Please keep that in mind.

 

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