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The Do's And Don'ts Of Facebooking

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Facebook can be engaging and enjoyable, or it can be a source of aggravation and stress. If you put some care into writing your status updates on Facebook, you'll have more fun there, and you'll also give your friends and followers a better experience.

Facebook status updates are often conversational, but remember: they are a type of writing, and you have an audience of readers. Every time you post an update, you're creating a reading experience for your friends. Think of yourself as the editor of your own personal magazine, and post with your readers' engagement in mind.

These dos and don'ts can help:

Do

  • Keep your status updates brief. Everyone is busy, and the longer your updates the fewer people will read them.
  • Consider what your friends might actually want to read rather than just what you feel like saying at the moment.
  • Vary your posts. If you flood your page with dozens of posts about embroidery patterns, vintage lawn mowers, or even cat videos, you're going to wear people out. Curate your content, and offer your readers an assortment of your own personal comments, information shared from other sources, images, and questions to spark discussion.
  • Rant sparingly, if at all. There's nothing wrong with sharing the ups and downs of your life on Facebook, but remember your friends aren't there just to listen to you vent.
  • Use discretion and good taste. Your root canal might be top of mind for you, but your friends don't need to hear the gory details.
  • Take it easy with the politics. Political disagreements on Facebook can lead to hard feelings and can escalate to de-friending, which is sad. By all means share opinions and issues that are important to you, but remember you're talking to real people on Facebook: watch your tone, don't shout, and don't be nasty.
  • Proofread. It takes just a few seconds, and it can make the difference between a status update that makes sense and one that doesn't.

Don't

  • Don't post anything confidential or private anywhere on Facebook. Facebook privacy settings are in flux, and your updates might be seen by a very wide audience. If you're not comfortable sharing your update with literally everyone on the planet (including your boss, your co-workers, and prospective employers), don't post it.
  • Don't share anything about friends or family on Facebook that they would not want known publicly. You're responsible for protecting their privacy as well as your own.
  • Don't be mean. Unkind remarks about other people and nasty comments on other people's updates can make Facebook an unpleasant place to be.
  • Don't overshare. I'm glad you're excited about antique bagpipes. I like you, and I don't want to unfollow you, but seriously, seven consecutive posts about antique bagpipes is too many. If you're really passionate about something, consider starting a special page devoted to that interest rather than subjecting all your friends to serial posts about the same kind of thing.

Everyone has opinions about the best way to use Facebook. You can't please all the people all the time, but you can use some care in writing your status updates to make them as pleasant as possible for your friends and followers.