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Who you like on Facebook impacts your personal brand

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On Facebook:

-Do you want to declare your love for household product samples on a daily basis via “Women get it free”?

-Would you tell all your friends to “SHOP SALE” at Levi’s online store?

-Do you want everyone (including people you don’t know) to be aware you’re going to DOPE!, an event with “a non-stop rotation of 3 dope djs throughout the night”?

These examples are promoted/sponsored posts appearing in my Facebook newsfeed as we speak, and – as you’ve probably seen yourself – above the post is the name and profile picture of (at least) one of my friends. In each case, I felt a jarring disconnect between the person seemingly endorsing the product/page and the subject matter.

How would you like your name and likeness to be associated with the following burning update:

It’s a little too reminiscent of the super-snarky Condescending Corporate Brand Page parody for my tastes, and yet one of my male friends Liked the Woolite page, thus inviting this “update” into my feed.

What does this have to do with personal branding?

Thanks to EdgeRank, your friends may be seeing more from you in the form of sponsored posts than your actual updates. In these promotions, your profile picture is prominent and your name (not the product’s) is in bold.

When quickly scanning the newsfeed, it’s easy for a viewer to mistakenly think their friend posted the update or image themselves. At a minimum, they appear as a strong endorsement by you of the company/organization, and you aren’t notified when your name/image has been used – your mere “like” of the page has given permission for this use.

How to fix

From the brand side, I’m certainly not anti-sponsored post, and have used them successfully myself. But as a Solo PR Pro, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s “liked” some pages I don’t know enough about to endorse (and, in some cases, may be embarrassed to be showcased). Many of us probably don’t even remember liking (or becoming a Fan, in the olden days) of some of these pages – often, we just quickly clicked the like button at the request of a friend, since in the past there was no potential downside for doing so.

Yet with the growing popularity of Facebook sponsored posts – which enable brands to appear in the newsfeeds not just of fans, but also their friends, for as little as $10 – it’s time to take another look at the pages you Like.

Fortunately, you don’t have to click through to every page you want to unlike – there’s a shortcut:

1. Go to your profile page and click the “Likes” tab/page (if you have a vanity URL, it will be at facebook.com/YOURNAME/favorites).

2. Scroll down to see your Likes organized by year.

3. When you see a page you’d like to unlike, hover over its name or image to see a pop-up info box, and then hover over the “Like” button and select “unlike” from the options.

There are many reasons to keep the pages you Like well-groomed. In the past week, Oracle received some negative attention for automatically adding/consolidating the Fans of its many acquired companies to its “Oracle Social” page without notice. Despite the uproar, it was technically within their rights to do so (and all of those fans and their friends then potentially become targets for sponsored posts).

While you don’t have to eliminate all the fun and personality from your Facebook presence, your personal brand is worth taking the time to periodically cull through the pages you follow. What do you think?