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Andy Barger on Using Facebook
Andy Barger, an editor for BottleTree Books (a leading publisher of internet and literary books), was a contributing writer and editor for the recently released Facebook Fanatic: Explode Your Popularity, Secure Your Privacy and Buzz Your Band on Facebook. Here, he offers sound advice on making the most of your Facebook experience.
What are some of the most common and unique ways that people use Facebook?
The most common way people use Facebook is as a communications tool to stay in touch with friends. As Facebook has expanded into mobile applications, users can now keep in touch with friends while on the road. More and more, however, the site is being used as a business tool with new applications launched every day. Facebook Flyers are a great way to promote a business, film, book or band, and Facebook announced a comprehensive advertising structure for businesses in November 2007.
One of the most unique and beneficial ways we’ve seen Facebook being used is to raise awareness and support for worthy social causes. For example, Dollars for Darfur uses Facebook to gain support for its efforts in that region. The Humane Society also has a profile, as does the World Educational Development Fund and many other non-profit organizations. As you can see, Facebook is quickly becoming the site on which to launch grassroots efforts.
What would you say are the most important benefits of using Facebook during the first 30 days?
Facebook allows users to keep in touch with friends anywhere in the world with powerful social networking tools. Best of all, it’s free. At its core, Facebook takes real-life experiences and turns them into digital ones.
Why would someone choose Facebook over other social networking platforms?
Currently, MySpace is the largest social networking site. Those who prefer Facebook enjoy its cohesive nature. For the most part, Facebook doesn’t let users include html on their profiles, but they can add professionally created applications. This reduces annoying graphics and html errors on profiles found in other social networking sites. Also, Facebook limits banner advertising shown on a page so that flashing ads are reduced.
What are the top five things people should do in the first 30 days of using Facebook?
1. Before adding photos or friends, the privacy settings should be set at the desired level for protection of personal information. The default privacy settings may be too strict or too lax for your experience.
2. Did I say “Set your privacy settings?”
3. Upload photos that you feel comfortable sharing with Facebook friends, keeping in mind that complete strangers are able to view them unless you lockdown photo privacy.
4. Use Facebook’s friend locator to search for friends already on Facebook.
5. Add cool Facebook applications to your profile that will enhance the experience of visitors to your profile. The applications should be in-line with the general theme of your profile. The Food Fight application is one of our favorites.
Are there any challenges associated with getting started on Facebook?
Facebook is a straightforward social networking site when you first begin. The biggest decision is to pick the network (school, location, work) to which you want to belong. This will limit the types of friends that can access your profile. Of course, you can always belong to all three networks if you’re out of school and have a job.
How can people really get the most out of the site during the first 30 days, not just collect Facebook friends?
Think of your first 30 days on Facebook as you would starting a new school or workplace. Get to know your way around the digital halls and visit some classes (profiles) that interest you. Once you have established a group of friends that you run around with, you’ll have less time to be demure.
This is also the time to establish your digital persona. If you have a boring job during the day but are a biker by night, build your online persona around the latter theme. Once you have your privacy settings nailed down and have created a killer profile that reflects the real you, invite friends over to take a look.
What are the most common privacy and/or safety concerns or fears involved with using Facebook? What can users do to protect themselves?
The three common privacy mistakes on Facebook occur when making new friends, adding photos and profile changes within your News Feed/Mini-Feed.
When making new friends on Facebook, you should ensure that you know the other person in real life. This is especially true for minors on Facebook. People can be as young as 13 and still use Facebook. When rushing to sign-up and get new friends, people forget that any friend they add will have access to their personal information, including their address and cell phone number. In addition, many people fail to realize that not all privacy settings are found under the Privacy link. Facebook has one of the clearest privacy policies on the Web. Make sure you read it before signing up.
Photos can reveal many important privacy items beyond what a person looks like. Some Facebook users believe that just because they accept only friends they know if real life, that they aren’t giving out personal information to anyone else on Facebook. This is incorrect since browsers of Facebook profiles can learn about a person from their photos. For instance, clothing can give out confidential information about yourself, so be careful of what you wear in profile photos. Don’t show personal information in photos, such as a T-shirt or baseball cap with a school name, phone number, address, email address, web site URL, etc.
Also be aware that even if the last few postings on “The Wall” have been innocuous, a visitor merely has to click on “See All” to view every posting. This includes potential employers and school administrators. If you’re out applying for a job, ensure that you delete all party photos from your profile. Savvy employers are now surfing Facebook to learn about job applicants before granting an interview.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
Change always brings me closer to God and leaves me kicking myself for not being as close to Him when times were calm.
“The best thing about change is...”
Over the long run, we look back and see that it has strengthened us as individuals and made us that much stronger to face change in the future.
What’s the best change you have ever made?
The best change I ever made was a purposeful desire to avoid being mediocre in any area of my life; to drive out those “I’m just going to coast” thoughts. It takes change to rise above the status quo and it’s not always easy at first.