Getting started with Facebook
Facebook is a free-to-join service for anyone over the age of 13. Signing up for Facebook is simple – you just need to provide an email account, your birthday and a password.
Understanding Facebook’s anatomy
Your profile is organized as a timeline of your life where you can look back at key milestones to see top posts and events. It is where you let people know all about you – or as much as you want to divulge. It’s important to make sure that your profile picture is appropriate, privacy settings are configured correctly and only updates that you want to be seen by everyone are set to public view. It’s also a good idea to not publish your full birthday to avoid identity thieves stealing your information.
If you have clients who are friends with you on Facebook in addition to being a fan of your page or member of your group, then you can add additional filters to what people can view by creating lists for different types of Facebook friend (such as family, close friends, customers and colleagues), then make sure specific posts can only be seen by certain lists.
The ‘About me’ section on the left of your timeline can include information about where you live, work, studied, as well as your relationship status. Underneath this you can see ‘Recent activity’, including places you have checked in to, photos you’ve been tagged in, groups you are a member of, or pages you’ve liked.
Facebook can – with your permission – go through your email account’s contacts to find those already on Facebook. This allows you to quickly connect with those you already know. It’ll also make suggestions based on friends of friends who you may also know – the more “mutual” matches it finds, the more relevant the suggestions.
You can also search for friends by typing in their name, although some people will choose to only be seen by their friends or may have obscure names that are hard to find.
You can also look for people in the search bar by their university or employer. Choose ‘See more results’ and you can filter what is shown with the following categories: all results, people, pages, groups, apps and events. There is also the option on the right-hand side of the page to search the web for a name.
The news feed is the part of Facebook that Facebook users see – and interact with – the most often. It’s a place where you’re privy to constantly updating snippets of activity from our friends, pages you’ve liked or created, groups you’ve set up or joined, and sponsored ads.
Your news feed will automatically pull up posts you may like to read, based on your preferences and activity. There is also the opportunity to follow, hide or unfollow updates that you don’t want to see on a regular basis.
The status field is where you say what you’re feeling, doing and where you are, in up to 460 characters. One mistake people make is to assume that people are always reading their updates or to be too vague.
This can create confusion, and may even annoy your readers if it ultimately offers nothing positive to those reading it – fine perhaps in the personal sphere, but when it comes to promoting your business it’s not a good way of getting your message across.
It’s always worth bearing in mind that not everyone will be on Facebook at the time you post something – and that there’s often a short window of time for people to see it. There are ways that you can keep your updates high up on the news feed, and we talk more about this later on (see section 6.2 of this playbook).
Posting regularly as a business is also a good way of keeping things fresh and getting your message across, but remember that Facebook isn’t Twitter – you shouldn’t necessarily post the same message (or a variation on that message) more than once or twice.
By turning on your smart phone’s location services, you can check into a location using the ‘Check In’ feature from your news feed. This is essentially another kind of status update where you can search for a place you are visiting and post it along with anything else you want to say. This is a great way of letting people know about events or areas that are relevant and interesting.
Some businesses ask clients to ‘check in’ on Facebook when they arrive at a venue in return for a discount or freebie. This is a good way of advertising your business amongst a whole new audience of potential customers.
Here you will find links to access your timeline, news feed, messages, events, saved items, friend lists, groups, apps, interests, favorites, pages, ads and developer apps.
There may be other categories depending on the apps you have downloaded or are available to you (some features are only available in certain countries). You can reorder this view by moving categories up and down depending on your preferences.
Tools of the Trade for Facebook
This is the critical component of your business’s Facebook presence. Your page is where you engage with your audience through the posting of shareable content that appears on their timelines. The aim is to increase your page likes and to encourage your fans to post your updates on their own timeline to share with others.
By liking a page fans will have access to every update you make, but content is still visible to all (unless it is restricted based on age, location, or other targeting options you may set for a post). Pages can be created for businesses, organizations or for products.
As an owner of a page you can comment and interact much like an individual user of Facebook. This will enable you to keep in touch and engage with your customers.
Groups are private spaces that are shared by people who have something in common and can help you manage who sees what. Although they are often used for personal friends and family members, businesses can also use them to create a community of like-minded people or to share information with a select group of people.
There are a range of different types advertising found on Facebook, from display ads appearing in the right-hand column, to native ads and promoted posts. Facebook advertising has developed significantly over recent years.
Here you can create an event or find events that are upcoming or have passed. There is also the opportunity to tag events and locations.
There are thousands of apps on Facebook that you can install on your personal or business page. You can use the Facebook App Center to see what is available, new or trending.
How to use the Facebook Toolbar:
1. Home: click the Facebook logo (or Home button to the right) to return to the main news feed.
2. Search: click here to initiate a search for people, places and generic “things” – as you type your search terms, suggested results will be displayed below.
3. Profile view: click here to view your personal profile information, photos and videos, wall comments, recent activities and friends. You can also manage your sections and interests.
4. Friends: click here to find friends to connect with or respond to any friend requests – you can accept, ignore or block these, as well as filter them into a specific list.
5. Messages: here you’ll find a list of private message conversations you’ve had with friends. You’ll also find an ‘others’ folder when viewing messages on your desktop, which contains messages from people who you aren’t friends with.
6. Notifications: when someone comments on a post you have published you will see a red notification (numbered) appear on the globe sign.
7. Privacy shortcuts: click the padlock to review your privacy settings and understand exactly who can see your information as well as who can contact you. You’ll also find advice on blocking people here.
8. Additional Settings: click the dropdown arrow to access further settings for your Facebook account, including options to create pages, ads or report a problem.
Understanding Facebook notifications
Your notification settings
You can manage the number and type of notifications you receive by clicking the padlock and choosing ‘See more settings’. This reveals an option for notifications on the left-hand side of the page. From here you can choose how you would like to receive notifications – either on Facebook, by email or push notifications. You can also decide what you want to get notified about, such as activity that involves you, people’s birthdays or specific tags.
You can also:
- Change which email address notifications are sent to.
- Turn off or on the notification sound.
- Create an RSS feed for notifications.
- Edit notifications settings for a group.
The Nearby Friends option (which you can turn on or off at any time) helps people discover which friends are nearby or on the go and works using a smartphone’s GPS system. When activated, friends who also have the feature turned on will be notified that you’re nearby.
You can control how long you’d like to share your precise location for and you can stop sharing it at any time. It can also look for people in a certain friend list and is especially useful for people who may be travelling or at a social event nearby.
Nearby Friends only allows you to share your location with groups of people you have created, such as close friends or family. You won’t be able to see a friend’s exact location automatically until you elect to show this on a map (for a certain amount of time) – instead it will say a friend is a mile or two away.
Facebook is rolling out the feature across the US and at time of writing is not yet available in the UK. It’s also only available for users over the age of 18.
Media sharing on Facebook
Like most social media platforms, Facebook has long evolved past offering simple status updates – these days you can share all types of information, with emoticons, pictures and locations. Now users also have the option of sharing and discovering music, TV and movies with its (optional) media sharing feature.
These can be useful when it comes to influencing trends and reaching out to new and existing customers. With the aim of making conversations easier, you can even use your phone’s microphone to identify what song is playing or what show or movie is on TV.
If you’ve turned this feature on you’ll see an audio icon moving on the screen when you write your update. If a match is found then you can decide whether you want to add the song, movie or TV show to your post.
This feature can be turned on and off at any time and you can choose who can view it in the same way you can with any other status update or post.