Although we don’t wear clerical clothing, take vows of celibacy, or baptize babies, we Mojo40 Mavens do have something in common with priests. We hear confessions. Intelligent and accomplished people confess to us that they don’t understand Facebook. In fact, some of them admit that they don’t even have a Facebook profile.
So we’ve collected your top questions and concerns and will answer them in a series of three posts. This post is about your personal use and why bother in the first place. The next post will focus on business use, and the last one on recent changes that affect everyone, even hard core users. For now, though, here are answers to the most common newbie questions.
Question: Facebook seems like a colossal waste of time. Why should I bother creating a profile?
There’s no way to understand Facebook without actually using it. And you need to understand it because:
- It’s changing the way governments, businesses, cultures, and people communicate. By not grasping how Facebook works, you come off as clueless and inflexible. Which are not the traits that employers are looking for.
- When your clients, potential employers, friends, and children make references to Facebook, you want to be able to participate in the discussion with an informed opinion.
- Using a company or government’s Facebook page can get you answers when email or calling fails. For example, Sharon Z. ran into problems trying to claim her weekly unemployment benefits, and despite herculean efforts to straighten it out through the Department of Labor’s toll free number, she suffered in messaging hell. Then, an idea. She searched and found the NY State Department of Labor’s Facebook page. She typed in her question and within hours, got an answer.
Question: How did Facebook get so popular?
It makes sharing information incredibly easy. Whether you want to pass tips on a colicky baby or plan a revolution to overthrow a government, these messages can instantly be passed to your friends and those friends can pass it to theirs. If it’s really popular, it can go viral in minutes.
Q: I’m confused. There seems to be different kinds of pages on Facebook. What’s the difference?
Even long time Facebook users get confused by this. And technically, only one of them is a “page”. Here are the different types of presences that Facebook offers:
1. Personal profiles. This is what you would set up for yourself. It usually consists of a picture, some information about yourself, and the updates you write on your “Wall”. When you’re asking to be friends with someone, you’re reaching out to another personal profile. Profiles are just for individual people — not businesses.
2. Fan page/Business page a.k.a Page. These are different names for the exact same thing: a page for a company, a brand, a cause, etc. Think of them as mini-websites where the company posts updates and interacts with their customers or fans. For example, Zappos has a Page, not a personal profile. For a quick glimpse at some of the most successful facebook company pages, see Inc. magazine’s nominees from 2010.
3. Events. These are simply invitations for events ranging from a cocktail party sent by an individual (profile), or a large fundraising event sent out by a not-for-profit company (a page). To create one, just click on the Events icon in the upper left corner on your home page. (see graphic on left)
4. Groups. These are formed by other Facebook users. It could be a book club, alumni from a swim team, or people that love iguanas. To create one, make sure you are on Home and then on the upper left side you will see Create Group (see graphic). Click that and follow the prompts. Keep in mind that you can set your group to be open, closed or secret if you don’t want others to see what’s going on.
Q: I don’t want people knowing all my personal information and birthday. How do I prevent this?
This seems to be the #1 fear of people who have not signed up yet. And the main things to keep in mind are Facebook requires very little information from you aside from a valid email address (which is not shown) and your birth date (which you can choose not to show). That’s it. For all your other information that you choose to share, you can control who sees it. A few tips on this:
- To control who sees your information, you can customize your privacy setting by using the pull down menu tucked under Account -> Privacy Settings on the upper right side, very top
- You must give a complete birth date (including year) when registering for a Facebook account, but then you can set your birth date to show only “month and year” or no birth info at all, by clicking Profile -> the button Edit Profile
- The most complete list of how your information is collected and shared is here
- Whenever you add updates to share (ribbon at the top), look for the icon lock. Clicking on the lock will bring up a menu that lets you choose who will be able to see that particular post
Q: How do I find friends?
Lot of options here. If you are looking for an individual you can try:
- In the search bar at the top of the page, type in the person’s name. You will see the profiles (most with pictures) of the individuals. If it’s Jennifer Smith, however, you may get back a LOT of Jennifer Smiths. So another option.
- Go to: http://www.facebook.com/srch.php If you know what school or company your friend was part of (and they’ve listed it in their information about themselves), you can find them that way.
If you are looking for all your friends on Facebook, among your tabs on the upper left side is a link that says Friends. Click on that. It will take you here. Follow the links to import your contacts and then choose one by one whom you’d like to invite to be Facebook friends.
Q: How do I upload photos and videos?
Use the ribbon at the top which looks like this:
Then toggle among Status, Question, Photos, Links, and Video to upload whatever you want. Facebook prompts you each step of the way, and don’t worry if you make a mistake as you can take things down, too.
Q: What’s the deal with the Like button and how is it different from the Share button?
There are two types of Like buttons. One that likes a particular post. And one that likes the entire site. We have both. When you hit a like button, it boosts the counter by one. If you are logged into Facebook, a message will also say on your profile Wall that you liked the post or the site, and that same message appears in the News Feeds of your Facebook friends. If you haven’t clicked Like for our site (located on the upper right side when you are the very top of the site) and this post, why not try it right now?
If you mouse over the Share button, also on our site, a little pop-up will open that gives you the option of sharing the post in several ways, including emailing it to a friend. If you pick the Facebook option, you can add a comment. The link to the post and the comment will then show up on your Facebook Wall, along with a graphic/video/text snippet. It’s a little different from the Like button in that it takes a couple of seconds more time, but you get to personalize it. Best way to figure it out? Try it right now on this post.
Q: What if I have other questions about Facebook?
If you’ve mastered everything here, try Facebook’s online help, which appears at Account -> Help Center in the upper right, very top. Or leave a question in the comments below. One of us will answer it. Or, perhaps one of our Mojo40 users will, if they see it first.
Present your best self, and don’t put up anything verboten
Last caveat: A woman was seeking a job with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Alas, they looked at her Facebook profile, found pictures of her drinking, and dropped her (as a candidate). Seems intuitive, but don’t put up anything that will trip you up down the road or go against any business where you work, or seek work.
- If you don’t have a Facebook account, open it now, upload your picture (although not required, we most strongly recommend it — it’s FACEbook), and start to add details to your profile. You can finish up later if need be, just get it started
- Using the Share button below, share this post to your Facebook page, and see how it appears in your news feed
- Like Mojo40’s blog by moving all the way back up to the top of our blog — where you see the banner and logo, and on the right-hand column, within the Facebook box (with photos), hit the Like button to up the count. It’s a nice way to say thanks.
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