Friday, October 15, 2010

5 common Facebook faux pas

Do you make any of these social networking mistakes? We're all guilty of Facebook faux pas from time to time. It's only when we repeat them continually that we run the risk of being unfriended. Here are some of the mistakes I see regularly and why they're a problem:
  • Being ridiculously self-promotional. Several colleagues at a recent meeting said this was their biggest Facebook pet peeve.  I can relate. A few weeks ago, I received a Facebook invitation from someone who included a promotional message with her friend request. I thought that was odd, but gave her the benefit of the doubt and accepted the request. This was followed by a similar advertising message from her on my wall: "I'm glad we're friends. I think you'll be interested in my product X and my service Y." It's not the best way to start a relationship -- in social networks or in face-to-face networks. 
  • Writing "happy birthday!" to someone on your own wall. OK, this is funny when my Mom does it, but when the rest of us do it, it's kind of silly. Here's how to avoid this: Go to your home page. Under "Events" in the upper right, you'll see the names of any Facebook friends with birthdays today. Click on the name; that will take you to the birthday girl's page. Write your message on her wall.
  • Saying something mean on a wall that you wouldn't say to someone's face. AWKward. This gives us too much insight into your true character. Ick.
  • Writing private messages on your friend's Facebook wall. These messages make the rest of us uncomfortable. It's like we're eavesdropping. Use the Facebook e-mail system instead. Here's how: Go to your friend's profile page. Under his picture, you'll see "Send (name) a message." Click on that and you'll get an e-mail window.
  • Sending "you should 'like' this page" messages to all of your friends rather than sending it only to people who might actually be interested in the business or product. If you're in Michigan and the page you "like" is for a local business, don't send the "I like this page and I think you will too" message to your friends in other parts of the country. Keep it local. (This applies even if you're paid to do this for clients.) Most people don't mind occasional irrelevant messages, but when you do it a lot, you're going to lose friends. (And maybe that's not a bad thing.)
I like how Facebook lets us be our own forum moderators. Let's help these people out by taking advantage of our ability to be in control of our own content. When someone writes something on your wall that's better suited to a private conversation, delete it. (Move your mouse to the end of the first sentence. The word "REMOVE" appears. Click it.). Then respond to the question or comment through your Facebook e-mail inbox -- it's a quiet way to suggest the right way to handle sensitive or private topics. Similarly, when someone writes something on your wall that makes you uncomfortable, delete it, because if it bothers you, it will bother someone else, too.

What's the most common Facebook faux pas you've seen? Tell us!


Lynn said...

Thanks so much for this list, Sandra. I'm so inexperienced with Facebook's features I'm afraid to really use it; like your mom, I'm sure I'd be accidentally sending birthday wishes to myself ;) Thanks for the helpful tips.

Sandra Beckwith said...

Lynn, if you're thinking about using Facebook (I don't want to talk you into anything!), I recommend creating an account and then going slowly. "Friend" your real friends, connect with old classmates, etc., then start adding professional friends. Watch what people do. Adopt practices that you see that you like, reject those that you don't like. But observe what others are doing first. It will inspire you to do what works best for YOU, rather than for anyone else. (And hey, when you're ready, friend me!)

Kayleen said...

I read the Facebook for Dummies book and it helped me understand several features. So thankful for people who lovingly explain! Thanks!

Sandra Beckwith said...

Kayleen, you were so smart to do some research first!