Some say the effects of Facebook are evolutionary. I’ll leave that to the anthropologists. But as Facebook itself evolves, I felt it would help to offer up a simple guide on how to Facebook.
Chances are you’re already on Facebook, so you might want to click down to see some of the changes to Editing your profile or to learn more about Facebook’s updated Privacy settings. Also, check out Pages and Groups for a better understanding of when to use which.
Read on, and check back. We’ll do our best on this page and other postings to keep up with Facebook’s changes.
Here’s what I cover in this post:
- Signing up
- Logging in
- Editing your profile
- Privacy settings
- Pages and Groups
Signing up literally takes minutes. In no time, Facebook steps you through the process of entering profile info, uploading a profile photo and even finding many of your friends who may already be on Facebook.
On the signup screen, you’ll be required to include your gender and birthday. This encourages authenticity. But don’t worry, you can hide your date of birth in the privacy settings. (More on those later.) If you were born before 1905, you might have to lie a little. Facebook offers a dropdown list of birth years that only goes back to 1905.
On the first screen you’re taken to, Step 1: Find Friends, Facebook offers to search your email contacts to identify your friends who are already using the site. This is a quick way to connect with friends, but if you have contacts in your email address book you don’t want to be friends with on Facebook, you’re better off finding the ones you want manually once the signup process is over. Finding friends on Facebook is part of the fun. Also, Facebook has been known to send requests to those of your contacts who are not already on Facebook asking them to join. I recommend clicking Skip This Step in the lower right.
The next step is to enter some basic profile info. When you enter a school you attended, Facebook offers a list as you type, in many cases displaying the school emblem. If your school isn’t listed, simply enter it. Same with your employer.
Next, you’re asked to upload a profile picture. You can take on using your computer’s camera or upload one you already have on your computer. If you don’t want to upload a picture of yourself, find a picture that represents you: a picture of your cat, your, car, your tractor. Profiles without pictures can look incomplete and even suspicious.
Activate your mobile phone
You’ll be given the opportunity to activate your mobile phone to receive notifications from Facebook. I recommend doing it. But not all notifications! I’ve set mine only to receive SMS notifications when someone tags me in a photo or posts on my wall. I’ll cover this later.
Control what information you share
On Facebook, there are over 50 privacy and 170 privacy options, which can be daunting. But what this should tell you is that you actually can control what you share and with whom. And these settings have become easier to navigate. Facebook is under the microscope, as are many social media platforms that collect personal information, and so it’s never been more in the industry’s best interest to self-regulate. With these comprehensive privacy settings, Facebook really does allow you to control who sees what. When you see the link “Control what information you share,” click it and learn more about Facebook’s privacy settings. I cover them below as well.
When you log in to Facebook, you have the option of checking the box “Keep me logged in.” Up to you. As often as I access the site, it’s easiest for me to stay logged in. Facebook has played around with this setting some in the past. At one point, the default setting was checked. Now it’s unchecked.
EDITING YOUR PROFILE
Life changes, and so will your Facebook profile. Here are the basics. Log in, and in the upper right corner, click the Profile tab, and then click the Edit Profile button.
Here you can change your basic information: say something about yourself, add languages you speak, even change your gender!
In the column on the left, click Profile Picture to change your picture to one you may have already uploaded, or upload a new one. NOTE: Edit the thumbnail! If your profile picture isn’t perfectly square, the thumbnail version of your profile picture that appears next to your updates and comments may be cropped unflatteringly. Click Edit Thumbnail to adjust how your thumbnail will look.
Featured People appear in the left column of your Profile page beneath the list of your friends. You can create different lists or add existing groups or lists. It’s great for showing family members or co-conspirators. And these lists give you quick access to the profiles of these friends.
Most of the other settings in the column on the left are legacy settings; some are new, like Sports. Most are self-explanatory. If you have questions about any, please comment at the end of this post and I’ll update this page.
Most of us are aware of the privacy controversies Facebook has stirred on several occasions. Facebook has admitted they’ve made mistakes and feel they may make more – the cost, its founder says, of building something so useful. Whatever. I don’t say anything on Facebook I wouldn’t say sitting at a busy outdoor café. When I post something, my friends see it, but so do others “sitting” close by.
To control your privacy settings, click on the Account tab in the upper right, then click on Privacy Settings. You’ll see a table of your current settings.
Click “Customize settings” at the bottom of this table and you’re taken to one of the most important pages on Facebook.
Here is where you determine who sees what. Most settings give you a widening choice of people to share with: Friends Only, Friends of Friends, Friends and Networks, Everyone. You can also customize most settings to include or exclude specific friends.
In the grouping “Things others share,” there is a setting for “Friends can check me in to Places.” Facebook Places is a location-based service like Foursquare that allows users to check in to their current location – a coffee shop or a bar, for instance. Places gives users the ability to also check in their friends. Here you can disable this if you have particularly mischievous friends.
Apps and Websites
Very important. Back on the Privacy settings page, at the bottom is a link to the settings for apps and websites.
Click this to see the settings for the apps you’re using with Facebook. Some of the apps may be ones you have subscribed to from places outside of Facebook. Their settings are controlled here.
Also, click on the Edit Settings button for “Info accessible through your friends.” This opens a screen that allows you to choose what information will be shared automatically when your friends use apps that they have subscribed to.
Yes, your info is shared when your friends allow apps to access their info! This is the biggest info leak on Facebook, so be warned. Here’s what is shared whether you like it or not:
- Your name
- Profile picture
- User ID.
Instant Personalization allows Facebook’s partner sites to use your personal information on their websites to personalize your experience there. I happen to like it. Some feel it’s invasive. This is the beginning of Facebook’s endeavor to create a social graph that creates a tailored experience across the web for each individual user. Click on the Edit Settings button to see Facebook’s current list of partner sites and to disable this feature if you don’t want to participate. This feature is enabled by default.
Facebook and some of the applications you use on the site will send notifications when certain events happen that affect your profile. You can be notified by email and, in some instances, by SMS whenever some tags a photo with your name, comments on one of your updates, posts something on you wall and so on.
To control which notifications you receive, click on Account and then Account Settings, and then click the Notifications tab. There you’ll see dozens of reasons you may want Facebook to notify you.
In 2010, Facebook surpassed Flickr in total number of photos uploaded. Photos are the number one shared item on Facebook. When you upload photos, you can group them in albums, add them to existing albums, tag photos with the names of your friends (even if they don’t appear in the photo!), and un-tag any unflattering photos you may have been tagged in.
When you’ve been tagged in a photo, whether by you or one of your friends, and whether the photo is one of yours or one of theirs, it appears in the horizontal string of photos at the top of your profile page, most recent from left to right.
If you don’t want a particular photo to appear there, scroll over it and click the “x” that appears.
Uploading photos to Facebook is simple. The time it takes will depend on the speed of your Internet connection and the size of each photo.
Click the Profile tab in the upper right corner, and then click Photos under your profile picture. Then click Upload Photos button in the upper right corner and follow the instructions from there.
Once your photos have finished uploading, you can name the album and then arrange the order of the photos by dragging them. Next, click Edit Album Info at the lower left. Here you can edit album details. Then click the Edit Photos tab at the top left and edit the details of each photo.
Here you can decide which picture you want as the album cover, add captions to each photo, move a photo to a different album, and tag friends by clicking on each photo. IMPORTANT: When you’ve finished making your changes, scroll to the bottom and click Save Changes.
If you want to share a particular album with specific friends, from your Photos page, click on the album, and then in the lower left under the photos click the Share This Album link. Facebook also lets you post the album to your profile and provides you with a public link at the bottom of the page that you can send to anyone.
PAGES AND GROUPS
Facebook offers two ways for you to build and join communities other than your personal profile page. Each has its own set of characteristics, and over time, it’s become clearer when you should use which.
A Facebook Page allows you to build community around your business or organization. If you’re a popular personality or a band, you can use a Facebook Page to engage fans and to increase the awareness of your brand. You can also discover the pages of companies you may have done business with and participate with the communities they’ve built.
Pages allow you to create a custom username for branding purpose. With Pages, you can also create custom landing pages, add extra applications to create interactivity for page visitors and promote your page with Facebook Ads. Facebook pages are open to public view and are indexed by the search engines.
Groups allow you to stay close to a specific group of people in your life, like family, a team at work or school, or your lion tamers’ club. With groups, you can share documents and photos and communicate in real time in a private environment on Facebook.
Groups let you control your privacy settings to determine who sees what. A group can be “Secret,” where its name and its members’ names are hidden and all content is only visible to its members; “Closed,” where members names are visible to the public but all content is only visible to its members; or “Open,” where member names and all content are visible to the public. Only members can add friends to a group.
Creating a Page
You have the option of creating a Facebook page for your business or your organization on the site’s homepage without signing in. But don’t do it! Sign in to Facebook first. Why? You’ll want your Facebook page to be associated with your personal page for a number of reasons. The most important is the custom username. Once you get 30 or more “likes” on your page, if you’ve set up the page while signed in under your personal profile, you can customize your username. This gives you an easy-to-remember Facebook address, like this:
If you set up a page that’s not associated with your profile page, you won’t be able to create this custom username.
Log in to Facebook, and then go to this web page: www.facebook.com/page.
Unless you want to set up a Community Page (see below), select one of the options under the heading “Official Page.” When you click one of the three radio buttons, a dropdown list will appear with categories to choose from. Name your page (you’ll be able to change this later), click the checkbox saying you’re the official representative, and then click the Create button.
Facebook will step you through the process of creating the page. Until you’ve made a few posts, you’ll continue to see a setup page every time you come back to this page. Don’t worry. Visitors don’t see this page. Only you do.
Adding the profile picture for your page is similar to adding one for your profile page. In fact, pages work a lot like profile pages. To edit your page, click Edit Page under the profile picture. On the left you’ll see a list of areas you can edit, including managing admins. You can add page administrators by clicking Manage Admins.
What’s a Community Page?
Community Pages are unofficial pages created by fans of a celebrity, business, politician or other organization or cause. If the page becomes hugely popular, its administrative control gets turned over to the Facebook community. This type of page was added by Facebook to give official page owners more control over their brand.
Creating a Group
To create a Group, go to your Facebook homepage by clicking the Home tab in the upper right. Then click on Create Group under your profile picture.
Name your group, and then begin typing the names of the people you want in the group (as you type, a list of names of your friends will appear). Choose whether you want the group to be Open, Closed (default) or Secret, and then click Create and start sharing!
With a Group, you can share documents, chat with all members at once, send and receive updates using the group email address. Groups are great for family, close circles of friends, and creating team environments and classroom environments.
SO THOSE ARE THE BASICS
Facebook has so many features that the best way to find out how to Facebook is to Facebook. The most important thing to understand is that when you share information anywhere online, you risk it being shared publicly now or sometime in the future. That said, you can control much of that risk by being careful about what you share.
For the sake of keeping this post simple and to the point, I haven’t discussed Open Graph, the Facebook technology responsible for, among other things, the Like button. It’s the most significant release from Facebook to date and will continue to enhance your life, online and offline, in increasingly better ways.
The Like button is how we will find the best of what we’re looking for on the Internet. A like is essentially a recommendation, word of mouth (without the mouth).
If you liked this article, please click the Facebook Share button below. It will be helpful to us as well as to any of your social media friends who, in the future, might be looking for some of the information in this post. Thanks for sharing, and please feel free to leave a comment.
How do you use Facebook?
What cool features or apps do you use?
Do you use Facebook for work?
Please leave a comment below.