Chambers: Does Privacy Still Exist?

If you love a good debate, there was a fascinating one that occurred recently on the Chamber Professional’s Page on Facebook. It brought up issues of privacy and engagement. Both sides felt equally passionate on is privacy deadthe question of should you accept friend requests from members?

Not sure if this has been covered- … how do you ‘explain’ to some members that your personal Facebook page is not where you want to be ‘connected’ to them? Being ‘friends/fans’ (Whatever it’s called) from the CHAMBER FB page is one thing… but there are some members I don’t want a ‘relationship’ with personally.

On the surface this appears to be a question of social media etiquette and Facebook for chambers.  But there are undercurrents of something much deeper here. While we can argue everyone deserves privacy, privacy is on life support. Here are a couple of things to consider when arguing about privacy:

Gen Y has a very different definition of privacy. Look at their friend lists. While the rest of us average around 200 friends or so on Facebook (the average differs by gender), Gen Y’s numbers are in the several hundreds (on average they have 696 friends with 16 of them being co-workers). They ask to be your friend with the same indifference someone asks for a business card. If you ignore them, they will either send the request again or write you off as old-fashioned. This is a reputation chambers are fighting as it is. However, a difference in generational approaches is not the case in this situation.

The other thing to keep in mind is that I may enjoy the food, ambiance and entertainment at a party but it’s the graciousness of the host that keeps bringing me back. I am not likening a chamber professional to a cocktail party host or a cruise director but as a chamber professional, particularly if you are the president/CEO, you become the embodiment of the chamber for the members. A warm extension goes a lot further than a cold “I want you here, but not here.”


Privacy and Managing Permissions


I struggled with this initially as well because I post pictures of my family and nutty (but not crazy) comments to Facebook. Did I really want people seeing that side of me? Then I realized, if they do business with me they will see that side.

While my profile is locked to the outside world, if I know you, I will accept your friend request. As a consultant, my role is slightly different but I approach the request thinking: who wants to work with someone who shuts them out?

As a chamber professional you’re sometimes called on to advise your member businesses on social media. If asked that same question, would you tell a local shop owner to ignore the request from a customer?

If you are extremely nervous about opening up your Facebook profile to non-friends you can:

  • Add them to a category with limited permissions
  • Create a profile for people you know professionally, one that’s separate from your family and close friends
  • Refer the member to your social media platform of choice (LinkedIn, for example)
  • Google yourself and see just how many pictures and other seemingly private things come up about you (this may kill your ideas of privacy)

In the end, you can make this argument about your own need for privacy but that idea is fading fast. Members (and customers, for that matter) all want to connect on a more genuine level. In some ways there’s a return to a small town approach to business that’s occurring. We see it in our “Shop Local” efforts.

We want to spend our money and time with people we know.

Guest post by Christina Green

Photo credit: Image via Flickr by nixter


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