Trimming Facebook for Long Term Value

I think I’m pretty “friendly” on Facebook. I currently have over 400 Facebook “friends,” and some are actually people who I actually would consider my friend in real life while others are just people I know but don’t know well. I have thought about unfriending those whose profiles I look at and wonder “Who the heck is this person?” but have figured there might still be value in “friends,” no matter how tenuous the connection.
The one part of Facebook, however, that seems to be almost completely devoid of any value to the Web working professional – especially in terms of business networking – are the plants, gifts, fish, animals, jewellery (sic), and other invitations such as “I Love the 80s” and “Hotties for Sale.” I don’t mean to be antisocial here. However, in a social media world where information overload is the new normal, we all need to draw the line somewhere.

Facebook InvitationsGiven the great tips that editor Judi Sohn gave for using Facebook as a professional, I decided to ignore, delete and block all the 483 invitations I had accumulated that, while sometimes clever and often amusing, would do very little to add value to my use of Facebook. It is taking me hours to do this, and I’m still going at it as I finish this blog post.
Did you join Facebook to play? If so, ignore the rest of this post. But if you really want to use Facebook as a professional branding and networking tool, take heed. If you joined Facebook to truly connect with people with whom you’ve lost touch, to meet new people who have shared interests, to quickly connect to those whose direct emails you can’t locate, then read on.
Here are some of my thoughts about these “invitations.”
They are too automatic and random
If you accept someone’s invitation to add a Facebook app to your account, you are usually presented immediately with your list of Facebook friends with checkboxes by their name to conveniently invite them to add the app as well. Although you can skip this step, some apps send you through a loop – never revealing to you that “private message” or “special gift” that you supposedly received from the sender of the invitation until you go back and invite at least one friend to add the app.
While I can see why an app developer would want to make it easy for people to invite all their friends to participate, this smacks way too much of Opt Out and leaves me cold.
They too often come from people who I really don’t know
Because of the incredible ease of inviting some or all of your friends to add the app, people who you barely know or know so peripherally as to not remember exactly how you know them unless you check your common friends, are the ones who send me the most app invitations and multiple invitations to the same app. Yes, you could unfriend those peripheral folks, but it seems more sensible if you just block the app.
They don’t provide ongoing value
No matter how much you might love Elmo or Cookie Monster, where is the value of adding a Muppet to your Facebook profile? How will it enhance your professional appearance if you have Pokeman or a Peanuts character or a personality test that defines you by the 80’s movies I like? I really don’t think blocking these apps will make your Facebook page totally devoid of personality. Try to pick the apps that resonate with you and reflect the professional image you’d like to project.
Maybe I’m saying a whole lot more about myself by what I don’t put on my Facebook page than what I do. Fair enough. My personal opinion is that while it could be loads of fun, I’ve been working way to hard on my social networking presence to decorate it with vacuous bling. Haven’t we all?
They distract from real connecting
The people who really want to interact with you in a more meaningful way is less likely to invite you to add an app and much more likely to email you via Facebook or your regular email address. Those are the contacts that you can value, not the invitations to get a Strawberry Gift or start a Heart collection or get Elven Blood.
So far, the only apps I’ve kept from the over 450 invitations I’ve received?
Causes – because I like to support good causes, and I like to support my friends.
GeoFriend – because I love geo-stats.
RealGoddesses – because it came from an actual friend so had real meaning to receive it. I then shared it with my sister because I thought she would appreciate it.
Pandora – because I love the Web version of the application and love music.
How do you feel about Facebook apps and how they reflect on your image? Are you even using Facebook for professional purposes? And what Facebook apps do you feel positively enhance your professional image?

this post was kind of inspired by this post.