There is an old saying – “don’t mix business with pleasure.” So many people have learned the hard way over the years that doing business with friends can harm relationships, even end them. I know of a few cases myself and invariably the endings are sad. But in a world of social media, can we really afford to stick by this wise old adage?

Until recently the boundaries were still there even on social media, Facebook is for friends and LinkedIn is for business. But as Facebook actively encourages businesses to create pages, can you afford to keep the boundaries? Without any great discussion it has been decided that being a friend is just part of business.

Let me hasten to add that this arguments only holds water if you are doing business in one way or another.

Here are some issues with social media that I have encourntered only recently that drive home this point:

* I recently helped establish a Facebook page for an organisation. The first problem was either breaking the rules to create a false profile to create the page, or using my own personal profile to do so…friends and business boundary problem 1. Then there is problem 2, the rules of Facebook are clear, you need to be ‘liked’ by 25 people before you can create a designated URL to use to promote your business. The only way to do that initially is to gently force your staff to ‘like’ it. In some cases staff are told to create a Facebook page just for this purpose.

* When you own your own business, you need to spend a lot of time networking to generate those all important clients. Of course you want to ask your friends nicely to spread the word (you don’t have to do business with them) and possibly even ‘like’ your Facebook page. That is not the problem, The problem is when you have someone you meet in a business sense put in a request to be your friend on Facebook. You feel pressured to say ‘yes’ – is it rude to ignore them or say no? What is the social etiquette here?

It would seem to me that yes social media has determined, being friends is becoming good business. Of course the only thing for it is to make sure you still have actual traditional friends, you know the ones who you don’t link to on Facebook but actually call, perhaps even see every now and then. But it’s probably too late for most of us, we would have to delete or ‘unlike’ people to make that distinction possible and that would be bad for business and friendships. So it would seem we have allowed social media yet again to change the rules. Time will tell whether this is a change for the better…but for now ‘like’ my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, join me on LinkedIn, visit my channel on YouTube and then perhaps we can Skype Skype Me™!(Get Skype and call me for free).

If you do all that well of course I will be your friend too, because that is just the way good business is done!