Regardless of age, it seems like just about everyone is on Facebook these days. True, social networking tools can make it easier to keep in touch with loved ones and old friends while helping you build a brand and reach a larger audience. That said, there are some unspoken rules that will make everyone’s Facebook experience much better. Read on for a few guidelines to Facebook etiquette.
-Only friend people you actually know. It’s annoying to get a friend request from a total stranger. What’s the point? Do you think that they’ll be so desperate for “friend numbers” that they’ll confirm the request? Even if you are trying to promote your company or brand via a profile, it’s better to make contact with relevant groups rather than blindly adding anyone and everyone. Try adding a Facebook link to your email signature, company website, or even business card if you want to recruit online fans—it’s much more effective than being an online nuisance.
-Avoid suggesting friends. Facebook has a tool that lets you suggest friends to other people. While it’s a nice idea in theory, many people see it as meddling; in other words, if they wanted to be friends, they would be. Just because two people in your circle know each other does not necessarily mean that they want to befriend each other on Facebook. Rather than making an awkward and pushy online suggestion, just casually mention that a mutual acquaintance is online. That way they can take the initiative and add them if they like.
-Avoid overly revealing or boring status updates. You had spaghetti for dinner? Fascinating! Toilet paper is on sale for 2-for-1 at Target? Amazing! Unfortunately, most people won’t find that terribly exciting—especially if you provide hourly updates on every single thing you’re doing. (Don’t you have work to do?) On the flip side, don’t be one of those people who overshares. We don’t need to know about your sex life, your baby’s dirty diapers, or any dirty laundry you feel like spilling. Save statuses for important announcements or truly interesting updates.
-Keep it on the down low. Facebook has a million quizzes and applications available, but it sends the wrong message if people click on your profile and all they see is Mob Wars or Farmville—especially if you use your profile for business purposes! That doesn’t mean you can’t play online games, but you should opt out of publishing your results. Otherwise people will get the impression that you are wasting time when you could be working.
-Edit your profile. Don’t post anything on Facebook—photos, wall posts, status updates about a troublesome client—that you aren’t prepared to have seen by the entire world. Nothing on the Internet is private, so save any personal party snapshots for the photo album if you’re worried clients or potential employers can see them. And let’s not forget about the girl who went online to rant about her awful job and slave-driving boss—only to forget that said boss was a Facebook friend! He fired her right on the spot!
-Don’t forget your dictionary. Don’t start using sloppy grammar or spelling just because you’re online. It reflects poorly on your professional image.