Our seminars at 435 Digital are off to a great start. Not only did two of them sell out, attendees asked for advanced seminars on Facebook and Twitter. We’re putting together our calendar for April and will be announcing classes later this week.

In the meantime, let’s answer a question that everyone was asking: How do you use Facebook for both work and your personal life?

It’s a tricky question. Facebook was originally designed for college students, many of whom shared everything on their personal profiles.  What’s more, college students who initially “friended” each other on Facebook were actually friends.

Flash forward seven years and 550 million users. Facebook is wildly different. Now anyone can join Facebook–including your boss, your colleagues, your clients and your industry peers.  If they send you a friend request, should you accept? Technically you aren’t friends, but you don’t want to snub them.

On the other hand, you don’t want to self-censor everything you post on your Facebook profile.  Most of your Facebook friends are your real friends and you’d like to share things with them that aren’t always professional.

Facebook Lists Are The Answer

Facebook Lists are a little-known but very powerful security setting. Essentially, you first separate your Facebook friends into different Lists. Then you can customize your privacy settings to control who sees what on your profile.

Facebook Lists are essential for establishing boundaries on your personal profile. You can still accept friend requests from people who aren’t technically your friends (i.e. professional contacts), but you can significantly limit what they see of your personal profile.

For example, you want to share photos on Facebook of yourself dancing at your friend’s wedding.  You look great, it was a fun night and you want others to share the memory. Problem. You’re also “friends” on Facebook with  a few clients.  Should they be seeing photos of you a few drinks in? Maybe not.

Another example. You want to post a Facebook update about how excited you are for the party you’re throwing this weekend. Problem. You didn’t invite all of the colleagues that you’re “friends” with on Facebook.  Would they be offended to read about your party and then not be personally invited? Maybe.

Fortunately, Facebook Lists can solve these dilemma for you.

How To Use Facebook Lists

I recommend creating two Facebook Lists. The first List can be titled “Personal” and include your real-life friends and family members. The second List can be titled “Work” and include all of your professional contacts, including colleagues, clients and industry peers.

After you’ve created both of your Lists, you will need to customize your privacy settings for each List. Obviously you’ll want to set higher privacy settings for your Work List.

(To learn how to set up a Facebook List and customized your privacy settings, watch this segment on Facebook Lists we did with ABC in November.)

It’s your call how strict you make the privacy settings for your Work List. You can prevent anyone on your Work List from seeing your Wall, but that is extreme. It’s also obvious to anyone who’s on your Work List that you are somewhat blocking them.

Instead, what you can do is plan to post two different sets of content on your wall. The first set of content would be personal content, such as personal photos and status updates. The second set of content would be professional content, such as professional photos and links to interesting articles.

How To Post  Different Sets Of Content To Your Wall

Yes, it’s a bit complicated and will take some time up front. But once you’ve set up your different Lists and learned how to share content between them, you will be cruising. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about who sees what on your Facebook profile.

Questions? Comments? Other ideas? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below or on Twitter at @435Digital.