By Alice Osborn
Most of us are on Facebook (FB) these days and I bet there's a good chance we weren't even using it last year. A friend invited you and now you're engrossed. Or maybe you're on FB, but you're not sure if you're using it right. Somehow I amassed 670 friends and I'm still learning as I go.
We've entered this huge technological sphere and no one has told us the proper rules of the road because everything moves so fast in cyberspace. It still is the Wild West out there! Most of us are going to make social media mistakes, but wouldn't it be better if had more information and knew about what not to do?
In the interest of community service, I've developed...
Eight Facebook Netiquette Rules of the Road for Your Facebook Profile Page
1. Do fill out your profile to the best of your ability. Many women list their maiden name as their middle name so their school friends can find them. Under "Favorite Books" and "Favorite Movies," go ahead and list what you like. Don't just say you like everything. And do post a good picture that shows your face and is an actual picture of you. If you're using your Facebook profile page more for business try not to use a picture with you and your significant since this is YOUR Facebook page and don't substitute a photo of your cat or dog for yourself. Folks will wonder what you're hiding.
2. Once you have a few friends, see what they're posting and how they are using Facebook. Ask yourself if you want to use FB as a social or a business tool or both. Listen! Observe! See what status updates make you want to read more and see what you don't like (i.e. goofy applications such as Farmville and Mafia Wars running wild all over your page).
3. Now jump in and comment on other friends' posts. Comment on their photos. Post photos of your own. Don't be ghost; stay involved and you'll get more out FB. Be sure to read your Inbox and respond to your messages. People hate it when they send you a FB message and there's no response.
4. Don't write how sick your children are on your friends' walls because EVERYONE gets your wall post. Save that for a private message. Walls are for quick comments, not for telling everyone where you're going to grab that drink after work. There's a tool to hide your friends' posts. I find this particular useful for my friends who like to post their political invectives and I don't want to defriend them.
5. Once you get the hang of FB, see what you can do to be an information broker and an indispensible resource. Suggest friends for other friends. Don't know what to post in your status update? Send a useful link, a video, give a tip, tell your friends what you're reading, what you're watching, where you're drinking your coffee, etc. I post where I'm speaking or presenting workshops and usually I get a lot of cool feedback. I also post a lot of photo albums. I add captions as well as tag my friends. I try not to post unflattering pics but if a friend doesn't like a particular shot, I delete it since I'm praying they'd do the same for me.
6. If you have a side business or a main business that requires a lot of outside sales, DON'T push market, OK? That's not adding value or helping people. It's fine if you list your website on your Info page, but don't solicit.
7. Don't put anything out there you may regret. That includes bad taste jokes, curse words, sexually motivated posts...you get the idea. I've seen some status updates that have been downright rude...I liberally defriend anyone who posts an extremely rude or racist update.
8. Lastly, you don't have to connect with everyone who wants to be your friend. If you know a particular person is prone to doing crazy things, you don't want to be tarred with the same brush. I hate that this is how the world works, but it's true.
And there you have it. I wish you the best in your Facebook adventures and feel free to friend me!
Social Media Sites I Recommend
Del.icio.us - social bookmarking web service
Facebook - great tool to combine friends and business
Flickr - for posting your photos
FriendFeed - great for linking social media sites
LinkedIn - very business-oriented site
SlideShare - presentation sharing website
StumbleUpon - rates and discovers websites, videos and photos
Twitter' much more current than Facebook
Inside 919 - Great for local businesses in the 919 area code. Very active group that encourages face-to-face meetings, too
Technorati ("claim" your blog at minimum)
YouTube (along with other video distribution platforms: Vimeo, Viddler, Revver, Yahoo video, etc.)
DocStoc - find free legal and business documents
Scribd - embed documents into a web page
Alice's ideal client is a committed writer who wants to get her/his fiction, memoir, nonfiction business/motivational book, poetry published. Alice believes in the holistic approach and will walk writers through all editing steps and will conduct rewrites when necessary on top of copy editing and proof reading. Visit her website at http://aliceosborn.com and her blog at http://aliceosborn.com/blog