Facebook rules for the rest of us

Posted on August 21st 2007

facebook2.jpgWhat is the best way to use Facebook? Can it serve as a business networking tool? Or is it just a social networking site that should be used to reconnect with personal friends? In an attempt to answer some of these questions, I've developed a set of Facebook rules. Rules for those who are in the workforce and a little worried about their privacy.

1. Only accept invitations from people you know.
We usually get invitations from people that we have at least a passing acquaintance with. But also some invitations from people we do not know at all. Quite simply, do not accept invitations from people you do not know.

2. Be picky about who you give access to your complete profile.
Many of us ignore the limited profile feature but it is very useful. You may not want someone you have just met to discover your high school nick name when he browses your "Wall." Nor may you want him to see the photographs of the party you attended the previous weekend. The solution - provide access to the limited profile and only in time change those settings. Maybe establish a one year rule - give complete access only to people whom you've known for more than three months

3. Do not publish phone numbers online. An email address is enough.
Did you know that random strangers can view your complete profile even if they are not your friends? Facebook's default privacy settings allows strangers to see the profile of all a person's friends. That can be dangerous. Solve the problem by not including too much contact information.

4. Do not accept random application invitations. They aren't worth it.
Alright, some applications can be a lot of fun. Whether its poker or the globe application, they let you share more with friends. But many of these applications also gather your personal information and market it to others. So don't accept too many application invitations. Or if you must, at least read \the fine print first.

5. Ignore the pokes. It will save you embarrassment.
A girlfriend poking her boyfriend is very different than getting a poke from a colleague. The best solution? Simply ignore the pokes. Don't poke anyone and ignore the pokes you receive. It'll save you embarrassment. Instead send them private messages or add them as friends. Unless that is of course, you truly mean to poke them.

6. Petition Facebook to improve its privacy settings interface.
The truth is Facebook succeeds when our privacy is compromised. The more we share about ourselves, the more our friends and their friends get hooked on the service. So while Facebook may say they respect our privacy, they'd rather we be as expressive as possible. But at the same time, they need to educate us about the risks of sharing too much. And just as importantly, they need simpler interfaces for changing one's privacy settings.

7. Don't expect too much from the Facebook groups


One of Facebook's killer applications are its groups. They combine the best of evite and meetup and are useful for organizing events. But beware of group invitations from strangers. If the groups are inactive or are marketing ploys, leave them immediately.

8. Use the send message feature. Friends may prefer it to the wall.
Everybody else may not be as open as you. Some may prefer to have conversations using the private messages feature rather than the wall. Keep that in mind as you talk to your friends. And whatever you do, don't compromise their privacy by posting something confidential on their wall.


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Comments

jessicawinslet
Posted on May 22nd 2009 at 3:25AM
Really nice analysis Ian. This is indeed a great opportunity and responsibility that Facebook is giving marketers. Brands will need to stop using Facebook exclusively as an advertising and customer acquisition channel. Instead marketers will have to begin applying the principles of CRM to manage Fan relationships and PR to determine what is news feed worthy. Here's a Slideshare deck on History of Casinos we're sharing with clients, complete with screengrabs, that tackles the opportunities and implications of the new Page design.
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