Are you hiding your own Facebook posts?

Are you hiding your own Facebook posts?

Are you hiding your own Facebook posts?

We've talked before about how Facebook may be hiding some or all of your posts from your friends and followers. Depending on how often your followers have shown interest in your previous posts, Facebook will try to determine whether or not your friends would be interested in your new activity. Thanks to Facebook's EdgeRank, it's not uncommon for less than 20% of your friends and followers to see your content. The assumption here though is that you are not doing anything to keep your friends and followers from seeing your posts. Unfortunately, it's all too easy with Facebook's complex privacy settings to make a mistake or overlook a setting, and find that you've been limiting your exposure after all. With Facebook's Graph Search coming soon, it's more important than ever that business owners make sure that they aren't limiting the audience for their content marketing.

Facebook Privacy Settings Explained

Facebook handles user privacy by allowing you to determine who can see you and your activity. You will be able to select whether or not you want your posts to be seen by the Public, Friends, Only Me or a custom set of connections. You can also choose to limit posts to a list that you or Facebook has already set up for you, like Close Friends.

To see your current settings, log into your Facebook account and look for the padlock icon in the upper right corner. Clicking it will reveal some basic areas of privacy that all users should review: "Who can see my stuff?", "Who can contact me?" and "How do I stop someone from bothering me?" Clicking on each will reveal basic settings for each.

Facebook Privacy Shortcuts

If you're using your Facebook profile to network and communicate business posts, I strongly recommend making your content Public. Facebook Graph Search will be used by Facebook users to search for information, and while results from their connections will be shown first, any content within Facebook that has been marked Public will come up next, followed by web results from Bing. Make sure that all future posts are set to Public under "Who can see my stuff?"

Facebook Status Update Audience

"Who can see my stuff?" applies to your status updates, which may include text, images and video. It is a default setting which means that each new post you create in the future, that post will use this privacy setting by default. Let's assume that you chose Public for all your posts, so tomorrow when you post a link to your new blog post, it will be Public. 

At any time, for any post, if you want to adjust that post's audience, you can do so before or after you've created the post. While creating the post, you'll see a drop-down box that is set to your default privacy setting initially, but allows you to choose from one of the available audiences before posting.

Facebook Status Update

After you've saved a post, you can go back and edit the audience at any time by clicking on the icon to the right of the date/time stamp. This will provide you with the same audience settings as before, and your changes are saved instantly.

Facebook Post

Here's the problem. If you post an update from the Facebook Mobile App on your smart phone, it will remember your selection and use that as the default for all your future mobile posts.

If you create a status update on your phone and choose to make it visible only to your Close Friends, then all your future updates will be posted to Close Friends as well until you choose otherwise.

Even worse, if you happen to be looking at the news feed from your Close Friends list and decide to post a status update, the update's privacy setting will be Close Friends by default!

At this time, there appears to be no way to disable this "feature" and no workaround. The only option for Facebook users is to be careful when creating posts, and to regularly review the privacy status of your recent posts. Unfortunately, Facebook does not display post privacy settings within the app and they cannot be adjusted. You will need to regularly review your Facebook profile in the full web version and ensure that all your recent posts have been set correctly.

Facebook App Access

Finally, you should review how your third-party apps are set up. Just like with your manual posts, your third-party apps have their own default privacy settings. If you're using apps like HootSuite or Buffer to automatically post some of your old blog entries or other social media activity, this step is critical!

Go back to the Privacy Settings and click on See More Settings. That will take you to the Privacy Settings and Tools page. Look for the Apps link in the left sidebar and click it to see a list of third-party apps that you have installed, and their default privacy settings. Chances are, the ones you'd want Public are set to Friends, so you are limiting your audience to only the people that have connected with you already. Run through the list and make sure that any apps that you're using to share content are set to Public.

Facebook App Settings

As you can see, in order to be successful on Facebook going forward, it's critical that businesses regularly review the privacy settings for not only their profile, but also their individual posts and activity. Making sure that your posts are public will not only grant the largest possible audience today, but also tomorrow within Graph Search.

Will you set your posts to be Public, or will you limit them to Friends or even a smaller segment? Were you aware of the privacy setting issue when posting from your iPhone or Android device? Let me know what you think in the comments below.


Mike is a Social Media Consultant and Blog Coach in St. Louis. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's. He is active on all of the major social networks and enjoys writing and teaching small business owners on how to leverage the Internet to promote and grow their business. Mike provides training and seminars to businesses and individuals on topics like "Content Marketing - Using Blogging + Social Media + SEO to equal Small Business Success" or "Establishing a Brand on Google+" or "How to use HootSuite to Manage Your Social Media Presence."

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