I should have known that… part one

FBpublic[Image credit, Facebook Help Center]

I’ve been managing various social media accounts for about five years. Not to mention boring a very few people with my own Twitter ramblings, Facebook updates, instagrammed landscapes, etc etc. Like most social media account managers, this means being fanatical about content and borderline obsessed with all kinds of analytics, stressing over engagement and reach and numbers of varying types.

But sometimes you discover something so blindingly obvious you are convinced everyone else has known it for ages and you are a fool. Or someone asks you something you think is blindingly obvious but you know that person is not a fool.  And the only logical conclusion is that these things are not as intuitive as you, with your obsessive page refreshing, might think.

So on the supposition that even seemingly basic things have to be explained at least once, I am going to start cataloguing some of the things I didn’t know about social media, both from a personal and an account management perspective, until I looked them up.

So here goes – starting with Facebook for personal profiles (the same tips not necessarily being the best thing for brands…)

Tips for getting the best out of your Facebook News Feed.

  • If you’re trying to tag a brand or person in a status update and the name doesn’t come up straight away, type the ‘@’ sign before you begin writing their name. Then it should pop up.
  • If you want to see updates in your feed in reverse chronological order, select to sort by ‘Most Recent’ at the top of the feed (this will be in the top right corner of the feed if you’re on a desktop, next to the first right-hand column ad. On a smart phone or tablet it should be an option under the three little lines in the very top left corner – you’ll see News Feed as a sub-option then select Most Recent, OR on an iPhone it might be an option right at the top of the feed, just under the News Feed heading.)
  • On an iPhone you can also sort your news feed by type, for example just to see photos, or to see certain lists, like people from work or school.
  • Which brings us on to lists. Like circles on Google+, you can put people in certain lists so that either they or you only see specific activity. The easiest way to find and create lists is on a desktop – go to your News Feed, then where it says ‘News Feed’ under ‘Favourites’ on the left-hand side of the page, hover over it until a little edit button pops up. Click that and it’ll show you all your existing lists – including what Facebook calls ‘Smart Lists’ ie people from your work/school networks or location.
  • This is also where you can create new lists – for example, a list for industry friends or a specific friendship group – so that you group updates from relevant people in one place. To see updates from people just in that list, you can select it either from your phone (as above) or on the desktop in the left column under ‘Friends.’
  • The ‘Restricted’ list option allows you to group specific people you only want to see your public updates. So if you’ve got work colleagues and you don’t want them to see your drunken weekend antics, add them here. To do this, go to the person’s profile and select the ‘Friends’ button at the bottom of their cover photo, then go to ‘Add to another list’. ‘Restricted’ will be an option in the drop-down – just select it. The person won’t know you’ve added them to this list.
  • ‘Acquaintances’ is another useful list. Adding anyone to this list – which you do in exactly the same way as above – will ensure that fewer of their updates appear in your main News Feed. Their posts won’t disappear entirely but you’ll only see what Facebook thinks is important. Very good for people you don’t know very well who post incessantly!
  • If you want to hide a specific person’s updates from your News Feed completely, again, go to their profile and select the ‘Friends’ button in the bottom right corner of their cover photos. There you’ll get an option to select or deselect ‘Show in News Feed.’ Again they won’t know if you choose to make sure their updates don’t show.
  • If you want to see posts from just the Pages you follow (brands, venues, musicians, TV shows, etc) then these have their own feed too. On a desktop, it will appear on the left-hand side under Pages as ‘Pages Feed.’
  • If you’re posting an update or album of pictures that you want only a certain selection of your friends to see, use the audience selector tool. This is available underneath the update box – on a status update, it’s next to the ‘post’ button and will probably be automatically set to either ‘Public’ or ‘Friends’ depending on your privacy settings. Click on it, and a drop-down box will display – as in the photo above. Select the list you want to show your update to if it’s specific (eg pictures from a work event might just be shown to work colleagues) or if you’re happy for anyone but your ‘Restricted’ list to see it, just select ‘Friends.’

It’s important to note that adding people or pages to lists doesn’t stop them from appearing in your main News Feed completely. Your News Feed will always be a collection of everything that Facebook thinks is of interest to you, based on your previous activities. So if you interact a lot with people in a newly created Friendship list and you also comment on your favourite band’s page a lot, your News Feed will still showcase activity from those feeds. It’s like Amazon recommendations: the more active you are in hiding activity you DON’T like, or commenting/clicking/sharing/ and, um, liking posts you DO like, the more relevant your News Feed will be for you. But lists are very handy for collecting everything together in one place.

Do you have anything else you’d add here that’s of relevance to personal Facebook profiles?

There’s lots more Facebook help here if you’re interested.


Making a hash of it

So last week Facebook joined the hashtag party. I know, I know. Hundreds of blog posts and thousands of #annoying #spammy #test messages are already testament to this: what am I doing writing about something 10 days after it was announced when I could be adding to the Instagram vs Vine noise? Let’s pretend it’s because I like to take time to digest these new developments before throwing my opinions out into an uncaring world and not because it’s taken me over a week to work out why I’m so ambivalent to the launch of the Facebook hashtag.

Some people (mostly, in my Facebook feed, page owners and marketers) seem very happy about this hashtagging lark. Some people (mostly, in my Facebook feed, friends who don’t care about marketing and are already pretty sniffy about sponsored stories) seem not very happy about this and think they should stay on Twitter and Instagram. And some people (mostly, in my Facebook feed, parents) have no idea what a hashtag is, think Twitter is for narcissists and would give me that look that somehow conveys both pity and complete confusion if I suggested they download Instagram and put a few filters on their photos. But  it even has VIDEO now, parents!

Anyway. I am a page owner and marketer, so I should fall into the first hashtag happy category. And, really, I am happy. Mostly.

Reasons for page owners to be hashy:

  • Most other social networks use hashtags. It’s an easy win and will definitely help with general page content planning and specific marketing campaigns.
  • Adding hashtags to your Facebook posts makes them more discoverable, so public posts will be seen by more people and also help marketers discover what their audiences are talking about amongst themselves without a shoehorned brand-generated hashtag. (For this reason I’m particularly interested to see trending hashtags when that launches.)
  • Facebook hashtags don’t override your privacy settings, so any you add to your posts won’t be public unless you make them so. (If you’re looking for specific information on hashtags and privacy, Mari Smith has lots of great tips.)
  • The way hashtags are delivered is based on Facebook’s algorithims, so what you’ll see when you click on one it will be delivered  by relevance to you (this tip also via Mari Smith.)
  • Each Facebook hashtag has its own url, so you can see everything people are publically saying using that tag. (Just type #FacebookMarketing into the search box and you’ll see what I mean…)
  • And ultimately, it seems Facebook will use hashtags to better able brands to serve targeted ads.

All of this is good for page managers trying to get their messages out to potentially interested customers and consumers. And yet from a Facebook user’s point of view, it also sort of bothers me.

Not so hashy

Much has been made of Facebook adding hashtags in terms of competing with Twitter. In its blog post announcing the move, Facebook talked about the hundreds of millions of people (specifically Americans, of course) who use Facebook every day to take part in conversations about the things around them, from TV shows to sports to the Oscars. Putting hashtags into that mix will enable those conversations to be searchable, providing the status updates that use them are public. Bringing conversations to the “forefront,” Facebook says. So basically, like Twitter.

But I like the fact that Facebook is not Twitter. To me, on a personal use level, they offer different things. Twitter is for public conversations, taking part in those hashtagged TV conversations and conference debates, following celebrities and industry influencers who you’ll never meet in real life. By contrast, Facebook is for friends – and some acquaintances, admittedly – and for things that I like. I know it’s not private, but in relation to Twitter, it’s not public. I’m not even 100% happy about the fact that me liking a brand page’s update shows in some of my friends’ feeds because of that post’s settings. I’ll support the things I like, but I don’t necessarily want everyone in my feed to see me doing it. And yes, as a page owner, I know this is not helpful thinking.

Anyway, because of this, my settings mean that anything I hashtag in personal posts will only be visible to my friends, so unless I am hugely oversimplifying things, I won’t be part of that public Facebook conversation and probably, therefore, of very little use to the owners of pages I’m not already a fan of. I suppose hashtags could be useful to me in terms of seeing what my friend list is chatting on about and I’ll probably start using them in personal posts because I’m a weak digital creature of habit, but I don’t really think I need them.

And the final reason why I’m only mostly happy about all this? It’s what people actually do with hashtags. Will Facebook’s public conversation feed wind up like Twitter, where every second hashtag seems to lead back to One Direction? Or will it be more like Instagram, where posts rammed full of #likeforlike #instalike and #doubletap become the norm and we all end up hash-blinded? Have mercy on our eyes, hashers.

Because let’s be honest – apart from the most relentlessly loyal fandoms, most of the time those of us who use hashtags don’t do it because we want to talk about a brand or a product, even if we love a brand or a product. We use hashtags to make fun of things, to jump up on the bandwagon and throw our opinions in to that big Twitter cement mixer with everyone else’s, to swap Instagram likes, and to make little jokes at the end of our posts.

Who knows, when trending topics launches my ambivalence might disappear in a cloud of excitement (will they only show tagged trending topics? Or will organically most-used terms not driven by a hashtag also display? Will the top trends differ much to Twitter’s? What will it show us about the difference in demographics of Facebook users vs Tweeters? And lalalala so many questions…)

But until then… my feelings remain mixed.