I saw a reader threadjack a while ago that I thought deserved a bigger discussion: the eternal question, should you friend your boss on social media?
We haven’t discussed this question in years! Back in 2015 when answering a reader mail about whether you should friend you boss on Facebook, we noted:
For my $.02, I agree with most of the experts: Privacy controls are HUGE here.
I keep a variety of different friend lists anyway — one very small one for my BFFs, a general one for my friends, one for parent-friends (so I don’t annoy my single/childless friends with a bunch of baby questions), and so forth…
Meanwhile, back in 2008 (aww), when a junior associate got a friend request from an 8th-year and wondered whether she should friend her superior, we noted she could just ignore the request entirely: “if he asks about it later you could lie and say, ‘Oh, I haven’t checked that account in ages.'”
Of course, friending a boss on LinkedIn isn’t any less complicated, because LinkedIn will sometimes show people if you’re looking at other company profiles, if you’ve recently friended recruiters, and other job-hunt activity. Here’s our last deep dive into the best LinkedIn settings for job seekers, including tips (and screenshots!) on how to 1) turn off your activity updates, 2) browse other people’s profiles anonymously, and 3) keep your group activity private.
After all, as we all learned from the Dolly Parton challenge, it’s ok to have different personalities on the different sites.
As for the other social media — Instagram, TikTok, Tumblr, etc. — I think it really depends what you’re posting (e.g., your political views — an issue came up in a recent threadjack) and what you’re liking.
I will also note that if you worry that you’ve got some interests or opinions that conflict with your “personal brand” — or are just more information than you’re comfortable sharing with everyone you know (like if you’re following people who post about mental health, sobriety, relationship health, entrepreneurial stuff, specific diagnoses, etc.), it’s ok to have a Twitter account or Instagram account or whatever that is mostly anonymous, and not connected with a “public” email. For example, one friend of mine joined Twitter primarily for Star Wars discourse but stays for the autism community.
So, readers, do tell: Do you think you should friend your boss on social media? Do you think the answer to that depends more on the particular platform or on the topics you post about?