Building your network safely

There are lots of reasons why property managers use Facebook. Of course, it’s a fun way to stay in contact with friends and family. There are also compelling financial reasons. New business opportunities and attractive job offers can result from a well maintained social network.

But these benefits amount to nothing if they create a threat to a person’s safety. The chances of a property manager being sacked for the contents of a poorly thought out status update are great enough to warrant concern. Too, female property managers in particular risk being stalked by a client; and this can be compounded by over-sharing photos and videos.

Facebook provides several privacy settings to which a property manager should pay close attention.

Add your Friends to a list

To maximise your privacy, Facebook allows you add Friends to lists, which can then be used to determine who can view your photos, videos and the various sections of your profile.

It’s best to keep the lists used for privacy purposes simple. If you go overboard and create lots of lists you may find editing your privacy settings complex and daunting.

As a suggestion consider your Friends as falling into four broad categories:

  • The Inner Circle. These are the people you like and trust and might include your family and those with whom you socialise. With this group you might share everything on your profile, including photos and videos of happy fun times involving too much alcohol.
  • The Outer Circle. These are people you know personally but wouldn’t be counted as your closest friends. They could include some, or all, of your work colleagues, clients, and business contacts. As your relationship with members of this group isn’t as deep as your Inner Circle, you might consider sharing a more cultured or professional version of yourself.
  • The Future. There are some people you don’t yet know personally but think you may want to know. These might include clients you’ve never met, people you don’t know that have sent you a friend request and people you know of that you’d like to work or play with down the track. Until you’ve met them face-to-face you might want to restrict what they can view on your profile.
  • The Past. These are people you just don’t care to know. It’s kind of a ‘dump bin’ category that might include ex-es of all kinds, people you felt compelled to add, and ‘creepy’ colleagues that you don’t want to offend by deleting them as a Friend. With this group you would only share the most benign of pictures (or none at all) and might not allow them to view your contact information and status updates.

By treating the Outer Circle category as the default privacy setting for Friends, only three privacy lists are necessary: The Inner Circle, The Future and The Past. The Inner Circle get access to everything, The Future get access to a more guarded you, and The Past get access to very little.

(As a side note lists have other cool benefits like letting you manage the order in which your Friends show in your news feed.)

Edit who can find you in a search

There are many reasons why a property manager may not want to be found in a search, therefore adjusting your Search Visibility privacy settings makes sense. On the other hand, property managers using Facebook as a networking and business development tool can create a public search profile. This type of profile will be picked up by the major search engines and displayed in search results.

Edit who can see pictures in which you’re tagged

On Facebook anyone can publish any photo they own. If that picture happens to be of you displaying less than perfect judgement, bad luck. And there’s nothing to stop one of your friends tagging you in on the photo. If you haven’t adjusted your privacy settings this action will be displayed in your friend’s friends’ news feed. Pretty soon you could become an unwitting cause celebre; and possibly without a job.

To avert this problem head to Privacy/Profile/Photos Tagged of You and modify the settings so that only the people you want are notified when a picture of you is tagged. Clicking the Customize link allows you to further limit who can see photos tagged of you. You can choose either individuals and/or lists to be included or excluded as you wish. This action will leave the photos tagged but, when someone clicks on the photos tab in your profile, they will only see photos of you, if you’ve given them permission.

These settings don’t delete the photo. If you want to do that you’ll need to ask the person who uploaded the photo to remove it.

Adjust photo album privacy settings

Often people make the effort to adjust the privacy settings of photos they’ve been tagged in on, but leave the privacy settings on their own albums wide open. Each album has its own privacy setting but the default leaves it visible to everyone.

Undoubtedly, there are many photos that you’re quite comfortable sharing with the world at large. You might consider placing these in an album visible to everyone. Other photos may be better suited to an album with a more restrictive privacy setting.

Adjust what people can see on your profile

There are privacy settings that allow you to control access to each part of your profile. Consider both what you reveal and to whom you’ll reveal it.

In your basic information be wary of including your birth year, particularly if you decide to have very open privacy settings. Your birth date, along with other information such as your email address, pet’s name, and your mobile phone number, could be enough for someone to steal your identity.

Finally, there’s an excellent article on All Facebook entitled 10 Privacy Settings Every User Should Know. It’s well worth the read.

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About Peter Fletcher

Speaker, trainer, and consultant helping real estate agents sort out their online communication strategy.

@peterfletcher - Google+

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