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The second Facebook profile experiment

Posted on 29 April 2017

TL;DR: I’ve made a new Facebook profile designed from the ground-up to be an effective tool for me to use as a journalist. 

There are two reasons you might want to connect with it:

  1. You use your own Facebook to do things you would like I, as a journalist, to know about (ie you are a community organizer, business owner, musician, politician in northern British Columbia). 
  2. You use Facebook to follow news and get information about Prince George/northern British Columbia.

My current Facebook is useless, personally or professionally

I’ve had an ambivalent relationship to Facebook for a long time now but over the past six months or so it really feels like things have come to a head.

The problem is this: I joined the network back when you need an @university email address to do so, and there were no such things as groups, pages and all the other bells and whistles that currently exist there. The friends you connected with were actual friends and the entire social graph was pretty much limited to people roughly the same demographic as me.

Since then, of course, it’s grown up to be the most dominant media company int he world and I have moved through several jobs to my current iteration as a journalist.

As a journalist, Facebook is a great tool. I can join community and interest groups pertaining to my beat, follow pages and politicians and use it to connect with strangers who have interesting ideas and information.

As a personal network, Facebook is also a great tool. I can see pictures of new family members, keep up with old friends and organize activities.

Trying to use Facebook as a personal and professional network is completely useless.

This became obvious to me on a recent vacation. I turned off my work email, put an “out of office” message on my phone and then… tried to figure out what to do with Facebook.

I still wanted the personal part of the app. I wanted to post some photos. I also still wanted to see what was going on in the life of my family member’s. But for a little while, at least, I didn’t really want to keep up with all the community boards and groups that I was following for work. There was no clean break.

I’ve tried various ‘notification’ settings to adjust what I see in my newsfeed, but it just doesn’t work. The problem is, I need at least two distinct newsfeeds: one for work hours, and one for personal. I don’t want to never see posts from community groups, I just don’t want to see them when I’m not working. I’ve tried lists, and they don’t work that well, either, especially since you can’t put groups in them.

Similarly, people connect with me for at least two distinct reasons. Some are because we have a shared past or we currently see each other socially. Others are because we’ve connected on a professional level- me using them as a source, or them following my reporting on a story they’re interested in. Those groups are not necessarily interested in seeing the same sort of posts and as a result I don’t really want to post anything.

Further, I’m increasingly using Facebook as a way to reach out to contacts I want to speak to professionally. I always identify myself as a journalist in those instances, but sometimes it still feels a bit weird, like using an @hotmail address to reach out for an interview request. I think I’d feel better making these approaches using an account that is clearly demarcated as a professional, journalistic account. Incidentally, this is also why I’m not just making a “Andrew Kurjata: journalist” page- I want to be able to chat with people from the account, and that is not a current feature pages have (unless someone messages them, first).

So that’s why I’m starting a new Facebook profile, one designed from the ground-up to work as a professional, public networking tool. I’ll still post some personalish stuff there- like photos from around town and that sort of thing. I imagine it will be something like my Twitter account, although slightly less frequent.

Meanwhile, I’m going to try paring down my initial account, starting by leaving groups and unfollowing pages. I don’t have any real plans for how I will use it because I think step one is seeing what it looks like once I’ve turned it back into a personal network.

As for the new account, feel free to friend or follow, I do plan on keeping it pretty open to see how it works operating fully publicly although I will continue to enforce my rules for commenting. However, you are under no obligation to connect with me here, or anywhere- no hard feelings, at all, I am doing this because I don’t want people to see things they aren’t interested in.


Filed under: journalism, social media

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