I have an acquaintance who is an author. Boy, is she ever an author. I never stopped hearing about her books on Facebook. I became this person's friend on Facebook because I was interested in her work, yes, but not to the exclusion of every other topic under the sun. I finally had to hide her posts in my news feed because the onsluaght of self-promotional announcements was overwhelming.
How can people effectively use Facebook for networking and promotion without being totally irritating?
This is something I struggle with too, and I know I've made some mistakes in this area. Every once in a while I'll look at my friend count on Facebook and realize I've lost somebody. Who was it, and why? I'm not sure if there is a way to find out who has defriended/unfriended (I hate those as verbs) -- and I'm not sure if I would want to know who even if I could. But I would want to know why, so that I can try to make it better.
Part of the issue with Facebook is that we have too many competing audiences. If you are a real estate agent, you likely have clients and business associates as Facebook friends. But they're hanging out there with your mom, your fourth-grade teacher, and that guy you had a crush on in junior high. (What were you thinking, anyway?) All of those friends and family members aren't going to care about your work life, and all of those business associates aren't going to care about your daughter's eighteenth dance recital of the spring. (They might have enjoyed hearing about the first seven, however.)
So, here are five tips for using and enjoying Facebook:
1) Find a balance. If you're using Facebook for professional networking, don't have it be all about you you you. Obviously, people are going to cut you some slack for brag time if you've just had a book released or been selected to journey to the moon or what have you. Those are special times. But be a person first.
2) Do not overshare. While Facebook is a personal site first and foremost, it's tempting to forget that there are boundaries. The larger your circle of friends and the less you know them in "real life," the more circumspect you should be about self-revelations. As a general rule, I'm sorry to report that your underwear is off-limits. Also your sex life.
3) Don't overannounce new blog posts or articles. If you're a writer of any kind, Facebook is a fantastic way to let friends and readers know about new blog posts, links to articles, etc. But don't be one of those people who uses an auto server like HootSuite (which is awesome, BTW -- that'll be in next Saturday's post) to spam your peeps with multiple announcements of every move you make. It's annoying. Once is enough if you have a small group of Facebook friends, and twice is enough if it's a large group.
4) Be supportive. Facebook is a social networking site, emphasis on the social. Be involved in your friends' lives and comment on their posts. Follow their links and read their stuff. Enjoy their photos. It's fun. I'm an extrovert by nature, and I love keeping up with people's status updates, from the mundane to the profound. Facebook is great.
5) Friend promiscuously. If you feel up to it (and not everyone will -- note my extrovert status from #4), accept a friend request from everyone who asks for one. I did not do this until I'd been on Facebook for a year, and then only because I was researching the hospitality chapter for Flunking Sainthood and wanted to experiment with accepting requests from total strangers. And you know what? Not only did the sky not fall in, but I've made new friends. It's been quite wonderful, and my new friends and acquaintances have often turned out to pretty darn cool.