5 Facebook DO's and DON'Ts

mind-your-manners-on-facebook-etiquetteYesterday, I shared my Facebook story.

Today, I will outline some basic "Do's" and "Don'ts" for Facebook users. I may not be Miss Manners herself (I always forget where to put the salad fork and the dessert fork, for example), but I do know a thing or two about etiquette. And, unfortunately, common sense and good old-fashioned courtesy are often painfully lacking in Facebook Town.

Here's how to be a friend-able and mannerly Facebook user:

1. DO choose your friends wisely (or create a friends feed). Facebook isn't a race to see who can get the most friends. In fact, the more "friends" you have, the less likely it is that you will be able to have meaningful conversations with them. Not to mention the fact that there is no way you can keep up with the updates of hundreds of friends unless you whittle your life away on Facebook (which I certainly don't recommend).

There are two ways to handle this predicament:

(A) Keep your friend list to a minimum. Do you really have to add every single person from your childhood, high school, neighborhood, etc? Do you really want to? Please note that it's perfectly okay and acceptable to ignore someone's friend request. They won't even know that you did...

(B) Set up a second feed, specifically for people that you want to follow. That way, you can "keep tabs" on a select group of people that you choose, but you can still have hundreds of "friends." To set up a second list, click "more" on your left sidebar. Then, go to "Create New List," add the people you want to follow, and you're all set.

2. DO send a message when you request a new friend. You searched for your best friend in 6th grade and - lo and behold! - you found her! Before you send a blind request, take a minute to say something in the request: "Hi! Remember how we built that clubhouse in my backyard and sold lemonade for 5 cents a cup? I'd love to catch up with you!" Leaving a personal message is the friendly and respectful thing to do. Plus, there's always a slight possibility that the other party might need a little "memory nudge." Hypothetically speaking, of course. I'm sure YOU are completely unforgettable.

3. DO edit and select your photos before uploading. It never ceases to amaze me when I see people add hundreds of photos to their Facebook accounts - apparently without stopping to even look through them. It's almost as if they just plug in their camera and send all their photos without blinking.

Facebook users routinely post pictures that are random, blurry, unflattering, and embarrassing of their friends and family members...and of themselves. I really don't get it. Do yourself (and others) a favor and do a little "quality control."

When you're ready to add your photos, select only your favorites. For example, let's say you recently got married or had a baby or celebrated your son's fifth birthday. Choose your top pictures from the event. People will want to see them, to be sure. BUT that doesn't mean that they will want to click through hundreds of photos. Keeping that in mind, choose your photos sparingly and showcase your best ones to ensure that they are actually seen.

4. DON'T post pictures of other people without permission (especially ugly pictures). Posting photos on Facebook is kind of the 21st century way of sticking photos in albums. And you certainly didn't have to ask permission back then to add pictures of family and friends, did you? Well, no.

BUT the photos you post on FB will be instantly available for hundreds of people to see (and, potentially, steal). So, it might be courteous to ask permission. Or, if not, at least be thoughtful enough to consider if a picture is becoming or not. If someone's eyes are closed or their bra straps are showing or they look three sizes bigger than they really are, PLEASE don't publish that photo. The Golden Rule is as relevant on Facebook as anywhere else: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

5. DON'T take every quiz available on Facebook and post your results. What's that, you say? You like taking those FB quizzes and playing those addicting FB games? I definitely don't, but everyone has their own hobbies (who am I to judge?).

That said, do you really have to PUBLISH all of your results? Really? I so don't need to know that you are movin' up in FarmVille or that the 1960's is the decade that fits your personality best or what kind of guy you are most compatible with (and I'm a little confused why you're taking that quiz anyway if you're married...). Publishing a particularly interesting quiz every once in a great while is acceptable, but not every day (or multiple times a day).

So, there you have it. A basic guide to Facebook etiquette.

Facebook has the potential to be a fun and useful tool to build relationships and stay connected with friends/family, but - as with everything else in life - moderation is key and...it's important to "mind your manners."

YOUR TURN: What "do's" and "don'ts" would you add?

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17 comments on “5 Facebook DO's and DON'Ts”

  1. Please, please, please stop boasting about your kids and how perfect they are. It makes those of struggling hard feel really bad.

  2. Never disappear from the chat suddenly as it embarrasses the person want to chat with you simply give an excuse or change your chat status to busy if you don't want to chat with any particular person. :)

  3. We do Facebook advertising for a living and I must say that all your points are right on! I'd also add that the same rules apply to twitter. Do too much and you're spamming. Facebook now allows you to hide both people and applications.

    Worse, Facebook won't tell you when someone has hidden you from their live feed. We were at Facebook headquarters two weeks ago to discuss this. They give you quite a bit of data on your fan page, but not this particular metric.

  4. I think my thing I don't like is when people use mysterious status updates that tend to attack someone... "Jane wishes that a certain person didn't think the whole world revolved around them." Obviously something is wrong, but you look nosy if you ask the person whats wrong and it just looks like "Jane" is fishing for sympathy. Additionally, if you have any negative interaction with that person in the last... oh year or so, you can think "Is she talking about me?" so lame.

  5. This is fantastic Stephanie! I HATE how people post all those dumb games and quizzes, ugh. OR or I get a request every stinking second for help with something. I don't play and I don't want to hear about it. i know that's mean, but common!!!

  6. Good reminders! However, I actually love having tons of friends. While it's true that I don't connect to all of them on a deep level, I still prefer even a shallow reconnection with old friends to no reconnection at all. And there are plenty of people that I do connect with on a deeper level.

    As for quizzes, I agree; the occasional/very rare posting is okay, but too many are just annoying. There are a few quiz result postings that baffle me; do you really want people to know you even TOOK that quiz, let alone what the results are?!k

    Finally, thanks for the posting pictures of someone else thing. I honestly never considered that some people would care, because I really don't. I'll try to remember that next time I'm posting pictures.

  7. Oh boy...I totally agree with you on your advice. Since Gary and I are new to Facebook,we are still learning the "ropes" of it. It is really great to catch up with friends that we lost contact with, but there are some people that we really are not interested in reconnecting with. We choose our friends carefully!

    It is funny about pictures, because I am very careful of who I take pictures with if I know that they have a Facebook Account. I totally agree with you about people asking, before they post pictures of me or my family! Before we had Facebook, people would always say that they saw my picture on Facebook at a bday party or bbq. I do NOT think that it is OKAY to post pictures on Facebook of me, my family or anything related to me UNLESS you ask me first:) WHEW...I feel better now:)

    Great post!

  8. I love your Facebook posts! Entertaining to read and so true! I love Facebook because without it, I never would have found some of my best friends from childhood and it's fun to see where they are now. It's even fun to get to know your friends a little better. I commented on a picture of a girl from high school who I'd only talked to a couple of times. From that, we discovered that we had both attended the same ballet school at one time and I feel like I know her better now. Things I DON'T like about Facebook are all the quizzes, pokes and games. They clutter up the page. And this might sound crazy, but while I do find the birthday reminder handy (it's always nice to write to someone's wall on their birthday), I don't like it at the same time. I used to pride myself on remembering all my good friend's birthdays (and I still do), but now whenever I put a card in the mail or send an email, I know they probably think I just got their birthday information from Facebook instead of actually remembering. Kind of makes it less special.

  9. Great post. I agree with all of the rules you gave. Maybe, someday I will open my account again, but right now I know that I would just get sucked in. Moderation in all things, but for those that it takes all their time and they just can't seem to get off the computer. None is better. Just like if you are an alcoholic, better not to have any than to risk taking that one drink. Yeah, Facebook is different than drinking, but it is the same kind of addiction, when people just can't get enough of knowing about every little moment of someones life. I think the whole thing is a little bit creepy and crazy.

  10. Facebook is quite the phenomenon. I do love to be able to keep up with people quickly and easily. Last year I went to a 15 year college reunion and it was so different talking to my friends on Facebook because we skipped right over the small talk ("What have you been doing for the last 15 years?")! It was a little surreal. I do need to be better about sending a message to people I friend. I dont always do that. Great post!

  11. #5 is my favorite! It drives me crazy that people post so much about their gaming and quizzing activities. I truly don't want to know that stuff.
    Other than what you said, I'd add to watch what you write. I've seen some very nasty and inappropriate comments posted to facebook. It shouldn't be a personal venting board. Set up a private blog or get a journal if you really must vent.

  12. Both the picture advice is spot on with how I feel. I have people who've tagged old pictures of me and I'm so not okay with that.

    I like the tip of messaging the person when you go to add them.

    And I like the test advice also. Though I've participated in some tests before, and will again, I often don't publish my results. I have to stop and think, "is my family really going to care about this" and likely 9 times out of 10 the answer is no.

    My advice:

    Don't post several random - completely unimportant updates back to back. This happened with two people I follow tonight and none of it was update worthy.

    I say approach a facebook or twitter update in the same way you would a blog post. Think about its value, its importance, and if it's interesting.

    And the other piece would be, if you have a facebook page do update it! I had a friend join months ago and she just now added a picture to her profile and uploaded a few of her children...and yet I'd seen her logged in many times over those months. If you're there, keeping in touch with friends and family, show yourself!

    Great topic and advice, Steph.


  13. LOVE it! The 'hide' option is the only reason I can still stand Facebook. I hid Farmville updates the day I saw them popping up in my news feed! And, like you, I don't care about what curse word I may be, or what type of drink best defines me. I mentioned it earlier, but I do like Facebook to keep up with friends near and far. I do like that I can update my friends with important information sometimes...like announcing the birth of my nephew. My brother asked me to do that since we share a lot of the same friends and he couldn't get online. I am however, one of those people with a lot of friends. Part of that comes from working in a different country with college age people...a huge Facebook demographic.

  14. excellent advice! I'm a big violator of the taking tests and posting the results :-) I don't know why I do it, it's a waste of time. Those stupid things are just addictive HA!

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