Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reason, Why I Joined Facebook… and 15 more Reasons to Use It

After getting quite a few unanswered invitations to join Facebook, I finally gave up, and signed in yesterday. In this post, I just want to present my rambling thought of how useful it can be, and how it might help in day-to-day life.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

First of all, this is not the first social network I have joined in my life. I will list just few of them:
  • LinkedIn – I joined LinkedIn long time ago, but for several years did not put much attention and efforts there. However, recent economic recession cause loosing several professional contacts due to lay-offs. And where is the better place to keep them handy? I guess, LinkedIn is pretty good for these purposes. I will be probably looking more there, when time will come to look for new job. Searching through personal network will help to identify a person, who might have a potential opportunity to help there. Communication there? Not really. Just refreshing the status and wondering, who landed where.
  • Twitter – I joined Twitter several months ago just to see what is this “wonder child of the blogosphere”? It is working pretty much as an instrument to spread a word about my blog posts. The list of the followers is growing (it is about 200 now), and amount of readers is growing as well. Did I ever use this tool for communication? No way. Will I ever use it to update the group of my virtual or real friends on what I am doing every moment? Never. Specialists claim, however, that this minimalistic type of the communication (in row with SMS) has a long and bright future due to the lifestyle changes. My English profile: My Russian profile:
  • Odnoklassniki – a Russian social network (analog to This was a cultural shock at first. When you can find almost all your friends, lost and forgotten, when you can talk to people, which you never dreamt you’ll talk again, that was big. After a while, the excitement decreases, and the normal life and communication replace the day-and-night chatting there. It is still great having an opportunity to talk, to write, and to chat with any of your friends, even thou I am not using that often. It just mean feeling more in a control of your life, like being able collect it all together.
So, I am debating with myself, what exactly I am looking for in Facebook? What can I get there, which I cannot get from all mentioned and dozen unmentioned social networks and blogging communities, I am a member of? Communication? May be. My blogs promotion? Possibly. Most likely, I am trying to get recognition to all my blogs from my friends? I do not look for more traffic; it will not be comparable with the traffic I am getting from search engines. I have emails and comments from people, so I cannot say that I am not getting any feedback on what I am working on. But… all these people, who I do not now, and I will never meet in real life. So, I need some kind of recognition for people, who I meet regularly. Like the recognition, I once got, when was publishing computer-related articles in a local magazine. People were asking for advice, people were sharing stories… I felt good, when I was able to help. Now, when somebody is asking for web addresses of my blogs among friends, I am usually reluctant to give that information, since I feel it like a shameless promotion. But, Facebook posts give a chance to everybody on the list for a glimpse of what I am working on, and may be find something useful and touching. Everybody needs some sort of acceptance and self-realization. And purely virtual acceptance might not be sufficient. So, this is my own main reason to join Facebook. It is possible, with getting more experience with Facebook, the new perspectives will open up.

From technical points of view, I like the enormous abilities to integrate the adds-in applications in the Facebook profile. It might include calendar and organizers’ widgets, virtual home office, games, messengers, and informational widgets. That allows converting the Facebook start-up profile page into alternative homepage.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Next, I took a close look, how and for which purposes other people use Facebook. Let’s review briefly main approaches:

  1. Looking for old co-workers and current connections.  By adding old coworkers and old friends to Facebook, you can feel more connected to them without having to actively maintain a conversation via email. You feel you can touch base with them any time you feel like that, even thou you might not need that for long time. Also, you can look for business opportunities out of shared interests.
  2. Add friends selectively. Contrary to popular belief, Facebook isn’t about “collecting” friends. There’s no reward for quantity, and you can have a rich experience on the platform with only a handful of connections. The quality of your Facebook experience will be based on the quality of the people in your network. You can create a limited profile for those people that you are on the fence about whether to include. By default your limited profile contains everything in your full profile, so take the time to edit it down.
  3. Add apps selectively. Right now, there are over 2000 apps you can add to your Facebook profile. The temptation may be to try them all. Don’t. Just because you can add Love Quotes to your profile, it doesn’t mean you should if you want Facebook to be a professional tool for you. Pick apps that won’t waste your time when you visit your Facebook home page, so avoid those that involve playing games. Read the app description carefully and know exactly what you’re getting, and what the privacy settings are before you go. It helps to see how your contacts are using the app first. But never fear, worst comes to worst you can remove an app as easily as you added it. Think of your apps in two ways…what do you want to see (that will appear on your Facebook home page) and what do I want the world to see (that will appear on your profile)? You might consider adding an app that you don’t display on your profile at all, but it uses the collective wisdom and usage patterns of your network to provide you with valuable information. Or, if you visit your Facebook home page often it can help keep you organized having nothing to do with your friends’ actions.
  4. Edit your news feed preferences. You don’t necessarily have to know the moment someone adds a new picture, but you may want to know when they’ve made a new connection you may have in common. Click the “preferences” button on your Facebook home page and use the sliders to give preference to the type of information you want. The more you fine-tune this information, the less time you’ll waste sifting through useless updates.
  5. Edit your profile and security settings. Give careful consideration to exactly who sees your profile and when. Don’t take the default settings which tend to expose more information than you may be comfortable. Take the time to go through each link in the Privacy area and make necessary adjustments. Maybe you don’t want people who are casually searching to know who your friends are or “poke” you. Maybe you don’t want a public profile (accessible to people who are not on Facebook). This is especially true if your primary network is geography-based. It’s one thing to share your full profile with everyone who went to the same college or high school you did, it’s another to share your profile with everyone in the New York City metropolitan area.
  6. Incorporate the tools you’re already using into your profile. Web workers like playing with all the latest toys. Do you blog? Do you Twitter, Pownce or Jaiku? Do you read feeds? There are Facebook apps available for all these services. If you have already use these tools professionally, why not add them to your Facebook profile? After you add the respective app, you simply do what you were already doing and let the app do the work. You can see the Twitter updates from your Facebook contacts without necessarily following their updates in Twitter itself. If your blog is on, you can add the WordPress app and your posts will automatically be pushed to your Facebook profile, along with recent comments. If you don’t host your blog with, you can easily use the built-in Notes application to post your blog feed as you publish. It will let your contacts know through your mini-feed when you’ve posted a new entry. Since your friends can edit their news feeds as easilly as you can, they can control how much of your life they really want to see. The Google Reader Shared Items app publishes to your profile those items you’ve shared in Google Reader, as the name implies. Do you think your contacts would like to read that interesting post? Don’t disturb them by emailing them, click the “Share” button in Google Reader and now it’s right there on your profile with minimal added effort on your part. The “Top Shared” panel takes a approach to showing the most shared posts across everyone who has installed the app.
  7. Join Groups related to your business interests. Many groups on Facebook are nonsense, but there are quite a few that can provide useful information and professional connections. Each group can feature a Wall (like a guestbook…a continuous scroll of messages) and threaded discussion lists. Rather than trying to search for groups, watch the groups that your friends are joining, as often you will find them of interest for yourself. After all, they’re in your contact list because you have something in common, right?
  8. Limit time wasted on Facebook. Facebook can suck you in easily. Remember, you have work to do. You won’t help your career if you fall behind on projects because you were too busy playing with embedded games and applications. If you find that you’re spending too much time reading Facebook message boards or reading about your friends’ favorite book selections then set limits for yourself. Facebook is a black hole. In order to get the most of Facebook, you have to be on the platform. Consider the Facebook toolbar for Firefox which will notify when you have a reason to go check the home page. You can also work with Facebook from your mobile phone, so think about babysitting your profile while you’re waiting in line or otherwise bored and not being productive anyway. 
  9. Be philanthropic. And look good to your friends while doing it. Can Facebook change the world? Probably not. But you can do your part and show it off. You can join groups that stand for actions you believe in. Use your Facebook profile to show the best side of you to your contacts, and if the environment or a cause benefits from your actions then all the better.
  10. Ask Questions. Don’t know the best resource for a particular problem? Maybe your network can provide some insight. Many of us have used our blogs for this very purpose. Asking your question on Facebook instead filters out the general public, and doesn’t leave a trail for Google to follow.
  11. Look for events. It’s not all concerts. There’s some opportunity for good, face-to-face business networking if you’re open to it. Or you can use Facebook’s built-in events application to see what conferences and events your connections may be attending.
  12. Utilize FBML. Facebook Markup Language allows page developers to create their own applications to feature tools that aren’t available by traditional Facebook applications. With FBML, you can allow users to sign up for email updates and make a donation without leaving Facebook. 
  13. Use Facebook Connect. This tool allows you to link your page with your Web site. Facebook users can publish stories from your site to their Facebook page which will then show up in their friends’ news feeds. Recent studies have shown that an established website experiences an increase of growth from using Facebook Connect.   
  14. Publish photos. People love sharing photos on Facebook. If you want to get some buzz going on a company event, a new office, any newsworthy event whatsoever, take plenty of photos and share them on Facebook. Your friends will share the photos, comment on them, and talk about them on Twitter. All this attracts more people to your Page or group and solidifies relationships with your friends. And ... it's fun! 
  15. Do Video. Seriously. The barrier to creating videos has lowered so much, there’s almost no excuse to not make a video of what you’re doing. Phones do video. My camera does video. I’m pretty sure the toaster will do video soon enough. Video is an extraordinarily powerful medium to get stories and concepts across to people quickly. You've got a few options with Facebook video:
- use the Facebook video app. This is great for short videos, especially if your friends are in it. It has the same tagging functionality as the Photos app, so can spread through newsfeeds effectively.
- use a dedicated video site like YouTube or Vimeo. Both YouTube and Vimeo have pretty awesome Facebook integration. If you’re already using them then make sure you share the videos in your newsfeed or you can use the dedicated applications.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Sources and Additional Information:

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...