Monday, June 27, 2011

3 More Concepts for Facebook Newbies

Last post I outlined the three basic concepts newcomers to Facebook should be aware of. Here are three corellary concepts that might help you have a more enjoyable Facebook experience.

Concept 1: Don't play the numbers game.

The Who get to the heart of the matter in a track from their aptly (for our purposes) named album "The Who by Numbers."

How many friends have I really got?
I can name them on one hand.
How many friends have I really got?
That love me, that want me, that'll take me as I am.

When you first join Facebook, it's natural to want to connect to all your friends -- and the sooner the better. But don't be driven by numbers to collect as many friends as possible. The total number of people you're connected to is no real indication of your status, popularity, or personality. If you go for quantity, you lose quality. Sure, friending everyone at work may boost your total, but do you really want the weird guy from IT to know where you're going to be this weekend?

The same is true of "Likes." I personally reserve my likes for things I'm passionate about -- not everything I sort of like (or don't mind). To me, it makes the likes more telling, because I don't distribute them freely.

Engage in Facebook for social reasons -- not statistical ones. Your interactions will be much more meaningful talking with ten friends rather than 10,000 strangers. (If you're trying to sell something, that's a different story, but I'm just talking about personal usage here)

Concept 2: When sharing, context matters

YouTube and other sites make it easy to post videos and stories to share with your friends on Facebook. And that's great -- your post might be someone's first exposure to that cool/funny/insightful thing you've discovered. But if possible, provide some commentary of your own. Because it's the post plus your thoughts on it that make it important.

This isn't a new concept. When  some of my friends got their email accounts back in the day, all they did was forward stupid jokes and Internet chain letters. Some of them never -- over the course of several years and thousands of emails -- ever sent an original word or thought. These were the email addresses I had no problem blocking.

If you post a music video on Facebook, give me some reason why I should watch it. You don't have to write a big treatise, just a little something to explain why we should pay attention to this.

In memory of John Lennon, on the anniversary of his death.

I've had this silly song stuck in my head all day. Now it's your turn.

Just heard this song again today. I used to hear it all the time on the radio at summer camp.

Think about it. If you were with a group of friends and you wanted to share a song with them, would you just start playing the music? Probably not. You'd say something first to set the stage. Same concept here. And when you do, chances are more of your friends will actually watch that video or read that story that you're sharing.

Concept 3: Playing games is fun. Hearing about them isn't

One of the most exciting things for new Facebook members is the plethora of games they can play. Some are solitare games, or single-player games, but most are social. These cooperative games can be addictive, as many are both simple yet multi-layered.

And they're fun to those in the game. But  not everyone is.  Be aware that, unless you say otherwise, social games like Farmville will send out notices to everyone on your friend list every time you need something. There's an innocent aspect to it: your fellow gamers will want to know what your score is and if they can help you get that cow (and score points for themselves).

But for people not playing the game, it's just so much noise. So be careful who you send the notices to (the default is set for everyone). Don't be like a member of my family who does nothing on Facebook but play games.

You can block posts from certain people -- which I didn't want to do with my relative. Not everyone knows that you also have option of just blocking notifications from particular applications. So every time my relative started a new game, I blocked the application. I stopped receiving any notices from her about two years ago -- because automatic game solicitations were the only kind of posts she generated.

And that's sad. Not for her, for course -- she's having a blast in Frontierville, et al. But I'm sorry for the lost opportunity for meaningful communication.


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