Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I've joined the Facebook cult

It's official. I have been lured into the crack den.

Yesterday morning, I gave up the good fight and became one of the last living humans to join Facebook.

You can visit me here (well, that's assuming you're a Facebook user as well, which is always what annoyed me most about it – the fact that you have to "join" to see anything, which means half the time I click some random link on Twitter, I'm taunted by a message saying, "don't you wish you could see this? Too bad you're not cool."

So I guess I'm cool now.

When I decided last winter that I wanted to start blogging and using Twitter, I researched neurotically. I read countless books and spent months lurking online to get a feel for what worked. I made lists and charts and probably prompted my poor agent to wonder how the hell I ever manage to get any books written.

With Facebook, I tried a different approach. I just dove in.

I had some hand-holding from blogger/author Sierra Godfrey (who was kind enough to respond to my comments about Facebook on her blog by emailing me to explain how she uses the tool) and from social media guru Kristen Lamb (whose terrific post about Facebook fan pages is what prompted me to finally click "join the cult" yesterday).

I'll admit, I always thought of Facebook less as a marketing tool and more as that thing everyone from my mother-in-law to my high school boyfriend uses to keep in touch. But I suppose that's the point, isn't it? Those people read, and so do their friends, and their friends, and their friends. Facebook is just one more way to connect with all of them and eventually say, "by the way, I wrote some smutty novels – maybe you'd like to buy one next August?"

So I drank the KoolAid, shaved my head, and now I'm part of Facebook. I'm still in that idiot phase where I don't know what I'm doing and probably just spammed all my mother's friends with jokes about vibrators.

But I did manage to master one important Facebook feature. Apparently I'll be posting my own pornography at some point. I clicked the box, so someone's just going to show up here with a video camera, right?
So do you use Facebook? Are there any tips you can offer a newbie user? Anything you can see that I'm already screwing up? Please share in the comments.

I'll be waiting for that camera crew to arrive.


Angela Perry said...

Just wait until you update your marital status. Invariably, everyone waits for years to link their significant others' page to theirs. When you finally do, you'll be deluged with people congratulating you on "finally" getting married.

Daisy Harris said...

Oh man! Now I'll feel compelled to start using my Facebook page. Gah!

Bt seriously, congrats. Happy FB day!

Unknown said...

The most important things you should learn about on Facebook are the settings...account and privacy settings in particular. You control who can comment, who can see certain things and how you receive information. Don't want to see everyone's Farmville updates? You can block that.

Take control of the settings and check back often for changes. FB adds applications that open up your information from time to time, so you don't want to get caught exposed. Tee hee...

Alexa O said...

I LOVE facebook.

Like blogging or tweeting, it takes a little practice to do it well, and there are plenty of people who can't seem to understand that their breakfast menu is not an interesting news item.

However, when you get the hang of how to write a fun status update (which I assume will take you about ten minutes, tops), and you have friends who are also good at it, facebook becomes a really fun social place.

I'm a mom and a writer, so my in-person social life is limited. Facebook keeps me sane when otherwise I'd only have my baby and the fictional characters in my head to talk to!

Steph Schmidt said...

Privacy settings are your new best friend. Best part are all the how-to guides a google away that even feature screen caps.

The other thing you might want to look into setting up is a fan page so future fans can like a page and not flood your wall with their randomness by friending you.

K.A. Krantz said...

Did you want us to glom on to your personal account or is there a "business" page? The former requires us to be "friends" [who wouldn't want to go hiking with you to discover hairy moons, clingy peanut-butter, or vagrant undies?], the latter let us "like" you [for the masses with commitment issues...oh ,and you get to have secret people help you manage your public persona when said masses overwhelm you].

Details & distinctions can be found in http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=904

Danica Avet said...

My advice is to block all invitations to play games. If you get a lot of friends/fans (which you will cause you're like all perky and cute and stuff), you'll be swarmed by notifications that someone wants you to help them find a cow or don't you want to go beat up some mobsters? (or something like that)

I like Facebook because like you say, everyone is on it. I don't like Facebook for that same reason (said as Stephanie, not Danica).

Southpaw said...

Dear me, we've lost another one... I wonder if your posts will change trying to lure the rest of us in.

Katt said...

privacy settings... can't be said too many times. go there, make sure the world doesn't have any info you don't want to share.

and I agree with the games. if you hit the x to block, it will ask you if you want to block the game or the friend - so that works well.

Liz Reinhardt said...

I went to a FB tutorial given by Jayne Ann Krentz and the ladies who run her computer world, since she hates doing it and is a very powerful, scary, brilliant lady who realized she needed other people to do what she hates. Their main FB advice was to have a fan page where people "like" you instead of "friend" you. "Like" is a no-permission thing, they just click and get to see what you have up. "Friend" means you have to okay each request individually and your page can then show what your other friends post. I know another commenter put up a link to the explanation, but Krentz's people (haha, I love saying that) told us to go the fanpage route for book publicity.

By the way, my I've seen you linked through FB on other peoples' posts! Very cool!

Anne R. Allen said...

I'm on Facebook--I joined mostly to get family/friend photos and follow local bands--but I hate and fear it.

It's more Big Brotherish than Orwell ever dreamed of. No matter how much you try to control your privacy settings, they can't control enough. Somebody snaps a photo of you stuffing a cupcake in your mouth at a party and that's what comes up on a Google search of your name the next day. You are bombarded daily with suggestions to "friend" your sociopathic ex. Plus you are handing your identity over to the corporate advertising world and saying "prey on me."

So I'm very grateful to Elizabeth's comment here about Jayne Ann Krentz. I'd say she's a lady who knows a thing or two about building a successful career.

On the other hand, I have "friended" a few of my favorite authors who seem to use it well--Jennifer Weiner has fun and informative stuff and I enjoy the illusion that we're "friends", I guess.

But I MUCH prefer Twitter. It's the difference between breezing through a cocktail party and moving into the Big Brother house.

Lynda Elkin said...

I've been reposting your blog on my facebook page. I'm SO excited you've joined. Now I can send people to your page! Hip Hip Hooray!

Jessica Lemmon said...

GROUPS! This helps me keep a status update private from some peeps if I so choose, i.e., those aforementioned "vibrator jokes" you sent to your mom's friend (LOL, by the way...) - well if you click on the little lock and exclude "Mother's Friends" then you can avoid any embarrassment.

Of course, I keep thinking I'll use this handy feature, but more often than not just post something mediocre and non-offensive and move on in my merry way.

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

I have a real love/hate relationship going w/FB. But I can't stay away. I have both a personal profile and a professional fan page. I prefer to keep them separate for multiple reasons. Just have fun with it. It does offer a lot of great features.

Melissa Gill said...

I joined Facebook, but it makes me nauseous everytime I open it. I look at these people and think, who is that old fart, oh, that's the guy I went to prom with. Gross, I really wanted to forget that.

Or I get invited to be part of the "choir club from class of 19.." I mean, I did that geekfest back in the day. Why do you want to drag me back into it now.

It's a joy!


Morgan, LOL, since I set my marital status as "married" right off the bat, I'm hopeful I won't have a need to change it!

Daisy, we must friend each other then! Wow, I'm kind of disgusted with myself for using friend as a verb.

Jeannie, is there something in particular I should keep private? When I signed up, I didn't fill in any info that I wouldn't want public. Am I missing something? Is there something in particular that would open me up to a lot of spam or creepy people?

Alexa, I just wrote my first update. It was not interesting, sorry. So if I'm understanding right, I write periodic little updates and then people can comment on them? But how do people know I've written updates? I'm not expecting people to hang out checking my page all the time or anything. (See what I mean about being clueless?)

SM Schmidt, I'm definitely planning to do the fan page, but according to that post I linked to from Kristen Lamb, it makes sense to do it after you've gotten your feet wet and made some friends on a regular Facebook page. That seems to make sense, though I worry I've now set myself up to have to maintain TWO Facebook sites (which could be a pain). Thoughts?

KAK, like I just mentioned above, I was going with the theory that it might be easier to launch a fan site if I started with a personal one (though frankly, they'd be pretty much the same thing in my case, right?) Hmmm...now I'm second-guessing and wondering if I should have just started with the fan thing, but it just seemed so snobbish to show up and start right off demanding people "like" me instead of making the effort to make "friends." Or am I understanding wrong? Educate me!

Danica, I've heard about this game thing. Is there a way to just block them from the start, or do I have to watch something and hit "block" every time something pops up?

Holly, I promise not to lure! I'll admit to being a bit of a Twitter evangelist, but I don't sense I'll be feeling that way about Facebook.

Katt, you guys are starting to make me nervous with all this talk about privacy. I didn't plug in any info I wouldn't want public, but am I missing something? Kinda scared now.

elizabethrheinhardt, hmmm...as I mentioned in a couple earlier comments, I was thinking a regular Facebook page was a good starting point and less snobbish than the fan thing, but now I'm wondering if I should have just started with the fan dealie. Is it possible to switch if I change my mind?

Anne, I agree Twitter seems a lot more like my kind of tool, though I'm admittedly still pretty ignorant about Facebook.

Lynda, cool, thanks! So how does that work, exactly? Will people still go to my blog or will they go to my Facebook page? Cuz I've gotta say, I probably won't be saying many clever things on my Facebook page. Most updates will still be with Twitter and the blog. Facebook will be my lowest priority (sorry, Facebook).

Jessica, I'll have to check out the "groups" thing, thanks for the tip!

Keep 'em coming guys, this is great! I really appreciate the help!



Whoops, looks like I simu-posted with a couple people there!

Elizabeth, you'll have to educate me on maintaining the two (though honestly, I can't say there's much distinction between the personal me and the writer me).

Melissa, I've been kinda amazed to see so many of my old classmates out there (though I get annoyed when they only post pictures of their kids instead of having any pictures of what THEY look like now).

Thanks for reading, guys!

Sheri said...

Stay away from Farmville! It's an addictive time suck!

Jen J. Danna said...

You did it... you drank the Kool-Aid! ;)

I'm with you on avoiding Facebook as long as humanly possible. I need another social media platform like I need a hole in the head, and I'm planning my own website before I head for Facebook. Yes, I know, I'll likely have to break down and do it at some point... but not yet.

So if you post something fun on Facebook, make sure you post it here too for those of us (losers?) that won't be able to access it otherwise!

Martina Boone said...

Tawna, yay! I JUST joined FB a week or so ago, too. I'll have to find you :) Now we're both a part of the dark side!


Sierra Godfrey said...

Congrats Tawna.

I'm not a fan of Fan pages. I think you did it right with this account as is. Fan pages, to me, seem like you're up on a pedestal asking people to like you. And in my experience, it isn't as easy to interact with people from that pedestal.

And thanks for the shout out, dahling!

Liz Reinhardt said...

I have heard that the switch (of people you've accumulated) from personal to fan is huge trouble and FB stomps and kicks about it! But I think you should do it however you want to! All of the authors I follow have 'fan' pages, but they post a lot and talk to 'fans' all the time. I'm sure they probably also have real pages for family and friends. Well, I'm totally hitting you up as a friend first! If you change to 'fan', I'll do that later!

Bonnie C said...

I'm a total Twitter Luddite so take this with as much salt as you like, but I think fb is more... personal? Most people I know use it to connect with friends and family and old school mates, stalk exes, etc. You'd be amazed to find out what most people you know think you will find intersting about thier daily routine - they are often quite wrong.

Most professional people I've "friended" or "liked" tend to put up short thoughts that wouldn't necessarily make good or long enough blog posts, which is cool bc it can start an interesting dialogue... or devolve into "OMG! me, 2!"

Definitely block the games. My mom and cousins are INSANE with their games and those updates used to be all I saw - highly irritating.

lora96 said...

I joined fb when my master's cohort was winding down so we could all keep in touch.

It has been amazing for me. Students from my first class "friended" me and I chatted with a couple of them (big 8th graders now). An acquaintance I used to give a ride home in high school friended me and I burst into tears. When I was in college I heard he killed himself. He survived the attempted suicide, has a daughter and a job and all is well.

Plus you will get to see more pictures of random people's babies than you EVER wanted too. Your friends will "comment on" or "like" someone's baby pics and there they are on your page. :)

Have fun.

Claire Dawn said...

I'd ove to be your friend, but then, you'd be subjected to my randomness. Of course, I wonder if my randomness even compares to yours.

I also didn't join FB til everybody I knew had been on it forever. It's fantab for me, because I live in a different hemisphere from most of my friends. Plus it's where all the foreigners in my area organise their get-togethers.

Learn the ropes. Just learn them. They're not meant for anythign naughty ;)

Ricky Bush said...

Yeah, it took me awhile to wade into the facebook pool. Still dragging my feet with twitter. But, I finally gave up on LPs and bought my first CD player when it all became necessary, so I guess I'll follow the herd--eventually.

See ya--
Ricky B

Bren said...

I've really been enjoying your blog, Tawna. You have a great sense of humour. I was compelled to comment by your hilarious "show my sex in my profile" comment. I laughed so hard.

Glad you're on Facebook. I'll be sure to send more people your way. Thanks for the follow on Twitter. :)

Happy Facebooking.


Sheri, I've never been much of a game player, so I think I'm safe from Farmville!

Jen, so far, I'm not posting much on Facebook, so you aren't missing anything interesting.

Marisa, did they teach you the secret handshake yet?

Sierra, I'm glad to hear your take on the fan page thing as someone who's already been doing Facebook for awhile. That was sort of how I felt about it, but wasn't sure I was right since I've never used it before.

elizabethrheinhardt, I've been talking to a couple authors who've done it (or who know someone who has) and it sounds fairly do-able, so we'll see. I probably won't attempt the fan page until I have book covers anyway, so it could be awhile.

Bonnie, thanks for the tips on the games! I'm a huge fan of Twitter, and it's actually quite personal if you're using it right. A lot of people don't use it that way though :)

lora96, oh, wow -- I'm so glad your high school acquaintance turned out to be OK. Talk about happy ending!

Claire Dawn, randomness is my favorite! Tell me about these ropes. Are they smooth?

Ricky, LOL, you don't want to know how long it took me to give up my tapes for CDs and then to switch from CD to iPod. A looooong time!

Brenda, thanks so much! Yeah, that "show my sex in my profile" window really did throw me for a loop at first :)

Thanks for reading, guys!

AlleyPat said...

LOL some of us just "do it". i'm always amused when something asks me my "sex", Im thinking, why are they asking about sex when what they want to know is my GENDER>??>?