Doing Facebook better...

Firstly - Time Management
One of the most important rules to understand is that the philosophy of any social media website is to get you and keep you there. All well designed websites are constantly trying to keep your eyes on their page reading their content. Serving you content that is relevant and interesting to you. This is for a a lot of reasons not least being they can serve you advertising from their advertisers. It’s great for the viewer because it becomes a potentially endless supply of meaningful interesting content. The downside to this is that it’s very easy to spend LOTS of time on sites without realising.

My advice for newbies is to be careful about how much time you spend on social media. It’s better to be deliberate in setting aside time to spend on Facebook. Perhaps setting aside blocks of time is one way of controlling this. It’s also important to reflect on the experience to see if it’s even something you enjoy. Many people find Facebook depressing, boring and upsetting. It’s important to bear this in mind before signing up.

Second - Privacy Settings
Understanding which parts of Facebook are “public” and “private”. I remember a good friend of mine being publicly castigated on Facebook by his mother for the way he spent money. This was embarrassing not only for the mother but also my friend. By default most settings are set to broadcast what you say and upload publicly, so either learn how to control your privacy or be very careful what you put up.

Third - Self Education
Following on from above it’s also important to understand or seek to educate yourself about how Facebook works. This empowers you to be better and to make sure that you control the technology not that the technology controls you. This is especially important because Facebook is constantly in a state of flux and development from Graph search, Timeline and Newsfeed all of these things. Facebook is aggressive in adopting changes from other platforms. There are lots of sites that regularly report on changes to Facebook and write simple how-to posts. One of my favorites is Mashable.

Fourth - Edgerank
Ever wondered why you don’t see anything from that old University mate you connected with a year ago? Or perhaps you’re wondering why you don’t see anything from people who you used to work with? Well this is Edgerank at work. Edgerank is affected by who you interact with and who interacts with you. In other words Edgerank decides who it thinks you are most interested in (based on your input eg. likes, comments, and chats) and feeds you more of that meaningful information. This means that as your interest wanes in your old University mates exploits Facebook notices this and eventually drops him off your Newsfeed.

No-one knows exactly how Edgerank works, Facebook keeps it secret. The algorithm itself is in a constant state of flux being updated and changed to try and keep you on the site for longer (see point one). The important thing to remember is that what appears for you on your Newsfeed in Facebook is controlled. It is controlled by an algorithm that you don’t really have much control over. I'll post some more about this in the future.

Fifth - Be Interesting
To do Facebook well you need to be thoughtful and intentional. Facebook generally isn’t a place where people with an axe to grind flourish. When people do this more or less exclusively, they run the risk of becoming boring and uninteresting. Consequently people switch off, unsubscribe and un-friend. With social media the key is to be fresh, interesting, engaging and intentional. This is of course, much more challenging.

Personally speaking, I aim to welcome a variety or viewpoints on my wall. I consciously try to help people (non-believers for example) feel comfortable to post links and feel welcome to contribute their points of view. This also helps me to be careful with what I say and not hold proudly to my own opinions and ideas.

Sixth - Be Real
My philosophy is that Facebook should reflect who I am as a person in real life. This means that I’ll talk about things that I’m passionate about... but it won’t be *all* I post about. I’ll also post about some of the more trivial but interesting aspects of my life, when I crash my car, eat a nice meal or my children do something amazing. Authenticity is key, otherwise we run the risk that people will perceive us as nothing more than the sum total of one issue. Finally try to temper what I write and post, so that it is loving and serving the interests of others, not myself.

Seventh - Be Humble
I’m the first to admit I don’t get this right. It’s easy to sound authoritative about subjects that you know nothing about. The internet is full of self important people with un-thought through opinions to share. Be prepared to say sorry, back down when you’re wrong. Don’t let your pride and emotions control cloud thinking and judgement. The internet like any good society it requires thoughtful articulate polite people to express views and opinions. But it also requires humility to admit when you're wrong and empathy to understand where others are coming from.



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