A year ago, I had almost 400 “friends” on Facebook, and another 300 or so friend requests that were awaiting replies.
And I hated Facebook.
I’d log on a couple times a week. Every once in a while, I’d see something fun or cool from my wife, one of my sisters, a different relative or a friend across the country. But most of what I saw was unwanted advertising (SEOs and online marketers promoting their articles) and other garbage (Farmville updates, etc.).
I thought about just zapping my account into oblivion and forgetting Facebook altogether. But there were a couple things pulling me away from that option:
- I really enjoyed seeing what my relatives and friends were up to, and Facebook was the best way to do that short of calling each of them every day.
- My wife was using Facebook unconventionally to build her local real estate business and I wanted to see what and how she was doing it. (By “unconventional” I mean she wasn’t using a business page, she’s using her personal Facebook account.)
- As a guy who speaks about social media at the GetListed.org Local University workshops, I really couldn’t toss in the towel on Facebook and then try to educate small business owners about it.
I really had no choice but to stay on Facebook and learn how to enjoy it. Here’s what I did:
1.) Changed my definition of a Facebook “friend.”
I set rules about who would be on my friends list. I rejected all of the outstanding friend requests that were in my queue. I started mass unfriending — too much self-promotion, too much politics, not enough real friendship with me? All gone. I figured they’re called “friends,” not “acquaintances” for a reason. I can keep in touch with my industry acquaintances just fine on Twitter, so no need to try the same on Facebook.
I’m currently down from almost 400 friends to 116, and I think I’ll end up with about 100 when I’m finally done.
2.) Changed my default sharing settings.
I set “Friends” as my default posting setting, instead of “Public/World.”
3.) Got more active.
Since pruning my friends list and changing my sharing settings, I’ve been posting more often and getting responses from people that matter to me.
The content that I get in the News Feed is a million times more enjoyable now. I see stuff from close friends with whom I have real friendships, and from family members that live all across the country. I’ve gone from checking Facebook a couple times per week to checking every day, and sometimes a couple times per day.
The content that I post is seen by people I care about the most (when I share with friends only), and yet I still have the option to share certain things with the 100-200 people who aren’t on my friends list, but are subscribing to my public updates.
And that’s how I’ve learned to like Facebook.
(But I’ll still be watching my privacy settings like a hawk. There’s a difference between liking and trusting.)
(Image via kudumomo and used via Creative Commons license.)