I’ve been playing around with Facebook at the urging of my friend Sherman Hu, creator of the popular WordPress Tutorials. Here’s my "Facebook for Dummies" question and Sherman’s prompt and helpful reply:
Howie’s Question: Since I joined the 2 groups you invited me to, I’ve been inundated with "friends" requests from people I don’t know. What should I do? How do I think about the social networking phenomenon so I can use it to my advantage without pretending relationships that don’t exist?
Sherman’s Answer: That’s a fabulous question, Howie. And to the credit of Facebook Groups and being promoted to "Officer" status in the group we’re involved together (Beginners Guide to Mastering Web Basics), we can tell that it works to help you build your ‘friend network’ and exposure in Facebook!
Here are some key principles to remember before I share 2 views you can embrace in managing your Facebook profile and network.
(A) You are who you hang out with. Remember this old saying? I believe it still applies today, and your customers, prospects, current/prospective employers/clients, colleagues, friends, and family will have a perception/judgement on the type of person you are by who you hang out with.
(B) You are in control of your network. Yes, you are not stifled or boxed in by the ‘rules’. You can choose who your friends are, and even after you add them as friends, you can still ‘turn back time’ and limit their access to your network or block them altogether.
(C) Keep it Social. In social media, master the art of passively promoting your own web properties – don’t do it blatantly. Keep it social, fun, intriguing, silly, make them laugh or cry, build in curiosity so they want to investigate further. Friendship first, business second (or something like it). Add value to the conversation first, then deliver your agenda passively.
Here are 2 different ways you can roll with your ‘business’ of Facebook:
[View 1]: BUSINESS ONLY: Treat Facebook as an extension of your Web Marketing in the Social Media space. This means that your network of ‘friends’ will include business colleagues AND colleagues, acquaintances and friends of your business colleagues. In essence, the phrase ‘friends’ in this view does not really mean ‘friend’ in the dictionary: a person you know well and regard with affection and trust. In this situation, it means anybody and everybody can be part of your ‘network of friends’. Facebook offers you the opportunity to add 5000 friends to your network. If this is your view, then feel free to ‘go to town’ adding whoever asks to be your friend, or proactively seek out ‘friends’ to add to your network.
[View 2]: BUSINESS AND PERSONAL: Your Facebook activities will include the above, plus you will use it to connect with friends, long lost friends and family. With View #2, there is more emphasis on you keeping it real and not adding people you’re not familiar with to view your entire profile, but allowing them to view your Limited Profile. After you’ve signed up for an account, you have freedom to modify your Privacy settings to reveal as much or little as you deem appropriate to people you add to your network to see. There is a feature called "Limited Profile" that affords you to group less familiar people to this "Limited Profile" view, which means they only get to see what you customized in your Limited Profile settings. Naturally, those you add to your friends can view your entire profile. You have the freedom and control to choose how you want to use Facebook – for business only, or for business and pleasure. And with either of them, you have the power to customize your profile settings for both friends and acquaintances.
Howie, I hope this lengthy answer helps to clear up any confusion on how to manage the barrage of ‘friend requests’ you receive in Facebook.
"And how should I participate in the network once I’m signed up?"
Howie, if you’re asking how you can participate in the "Beginners Guide to Mastering Web Basics" Facebook Group, then that’s an easy answer. Simply add value to the existing conversations, or begin new conversations with the group’s members. Any type of basic education or tutorials that will accommodate a technophobe / beginner audience is ideal. You can post videos, add notes, start a new discussion topic or write on the Wall in the group’s profile. I look forward to your contributions to the community soon ;-)
Howie, if you’re wondering how to participate in the Facebook community, then that’s something that depends entirely on your purpose for using Facebook in the first place. Some worthwhile activities to engage in first would be to connect with people you’re familiar with, and begin value-added conversations with them. This will open up many doors to other activities that you’ll journey through, only to discover that you’ll be Facebook savvy in short order. Here’s to your new journey in Facebook, and may it deliver you as much value as you contribute to it.
Sherman Hu (www.WordPressTutorials.com)