How to use Facebook for work

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David Ringstrom shows how you can adjust the settings in Facebook to keep friends and work contacts apart.

As part of this month’s focus on Social Networking our US sister site, technology lecturer and CPA David H Ringstrom addressed the delicate professional issue of what happens when a business contact or prospect asks to be your friend on Facebook.

There is hope for those older and circumspect AccountingWEB members who don’t want to share their off-duty moments and holiday snaps with fellow professionals - as long as you take a few moments to navigate around and adjust the privacy settings on the increasingly ubiquitous social network.

While you may not want them to get too close, declining a Facebook friend request from a business associate can cause wrinkles in professional relationships.

The way out of this dilemma is to configure your Facebook friends list so that only your closest friends will see what you post, unless you choose to share with a broader group.

This process involves creating a list and then adjusting your privacy settings, which is illustrated with step-by-step instructions in the version of this article accessible to logged-in AccountingWEB members. 

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About the author

"Either you work Excel, or it works you!" says David Ringstrom CPA, the head of Atlanta-based software and database consultancy Accounting Advisors. He presentsExcel training webcasts for CPE Link and contributes articles on Excel to AccountingWEB and Microsoft Professional Accountant's Network newsletter. He can be reached by email at david[AT]

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About David H Ringstrom


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24th May 2012 11:22

Or use Google+ Circles

Seems to me a much better business tool and far easier to segregate contacts.

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24th May 2012 12:13

Turning the rules of doing business upside down


On the face of it, the dynamic world of social media and the traditionally conservative, structured world of accountancy seem poles apart. Tweeting, sharing multimedia content and collaborating online hardly sound like features that would add value for figure-hungry clients or the firms that serve them. While David discusses the use of these tools in a professional networking sense, we must not ignore the potential benefit sites like Twitter and Facebook hold for business engagement and client collaboration to generate a value-added service.


Just as the public is now being given more rights to information in their medical records, and can easily look up their credit rating, or bank/retail account status, clients of accounting services are demanding greater, more flexible access to their own business information.


Information services provision is now a product business, like any other. The knowledge that accountancy firms hold about their clients is of no value to anyone but the given customer, so they have nothing to gain by keeping this information locked up. By sharing it with the client, on the other hand, the firm has an opportunity to enrich the client relationship and promote additional services.


The investment required is minimal – simple iPhone or Android apps to provide information snapshots to clients’ mobile devices are easy to get up and running, allowing clients to see at a glance which invoices are outstanding, and so on.


To deny such content to clients who are now so accustomed to information freedom in just about every other aspect of their working and personal lives is to deprive them of full control over their businesses. In a fiercely competitive global market, what kind of service is that?


Kevin McLoughlin

UK Country Manager


Thanks (1)
25th May 2012 14:56

facebook or linkedin

Some years back I heard a couple of social media gurus suggesting that we must all get to grips with facebook as the next generation of business owners (and thus clients) would all be active there. Accountants would therefor need to be comfortable engaging with clients and prospects on facebook.

I disagreed then (based on instinct) and I disagree now (based on some real evidence).

Most twenty-somethings I know (through 3 distinct straw polls) have indicated  that they want to keep their social and work lives as distinct as possible. They don't want to connect with their bosses or clients on facebook. They can connect with them instead using Linkedin.

I agree this strategy makes sense and I mention it in my masterclasses on how accountants can drive real business value from Linkedin.

Having said this the advice above makes sense if a client (who wants to connect via facebook) makes the first move.  The alternative response in such cases would be to reference your firm's social media policy - if this discourages staff from connecting with clients on facebook.


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01st Jun 2012 12:44

You cannot be serious!

The so called privacy settings on FB only control what other members see on FB, not what data is amassed by FB. In the background, all your text input will still be analysed and profiled. Posted images will still have face recognition, location recognition and physical location (mobile device or stored with image) information extracted and stored against your profile. It has been suggested that even private message content is used to update your profile. Remember that with a FB account, every webpage that you visit that has a "like" button on it, will be sent to FB, whether you are logged into FB or not.


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