Facebook is such a wonderful tool for reconnecting with our friends and our talents. Do you like origami, pole-dancing, training parrots or medieval sonnets? There’s a Facebook page for that. But, as mentioned in the first and second articles in this series about Facebook, it can also be addictive and a huge time suck, and especially exponential for DaVincis, who are so interested in so many different areas.
Fortunately, there are strategies and tools to keep distraction at bay and to make Facebook support all your talents and projects, rather than steal precious time from them. Here are some of my favorites.
Create friends lists. I put this at the top of the post because if you read nothing else, this one tip is gold for multi-talented types. In Facebook, you can create unlimited lists within your general pool of friends. Why is this so valuable? Because you can create mini-feeds from each of your tribes, each related to one of your talents, life domains or areas of interest. For example, I have lists devoted to my screenwriting and TV contacts, friends I know through music, connections I made while living in France, cartoonists, authors and more… and also old pals from high school and college, family, etc. As you add a new friend, tag him or her as being on one or more of your lists. Here’s the great part. When you go on Facebook, you can choose an area of focus. “I think I’ll check in with my screenwriting friends right now.” Go to that list (on your news feed, click on “friends” in the left sidebar. Your lists will appear below) and POOF –you’ll see ONLY posts from those on that list. If there are any pages you have “liked” in the same interest area, now is the time to check in with them as well. You can use this Facebook session only for this one area of your talents, then get off and do something in the “real” world.
This is a great practice if you want to limit the time you spend on FB, and also will get you more powerful results and deeper connections because you are going on with a purpose. By the way, your friends don’t know they are on a list, or several. Only you know how you want to pigeonhole them.
Stick to a schedule. This is tough but necessary. Facebook “Pied Piper” and social media expert trainer Mari Smith advises setting actual appointments when you will use social media every week and putting it on an real calendar. This may be a bit much for right-brainers, and is actually more important if you have a business purpose for using Facebook and other social media, such as promoting your new book, or becoming visible as an expert in your field. However, breing systematic is a helpful habit to establish even if you’re only using it for basic networking. Decide how often you will go on and for how long and stick to it. For example, if you like to go on Facebook in the mornings with your coffee, fine — but then DON’T constantly check it the rest of the day. When your coffee’s done, it’s on to something else. You’re a DaVinci — you must have something else (or more likely a lot of things) that you’d like to get done today.
Automate where possible. This goes with the above. If you want to be “visible” on social media more often than you are actually willing to devote time to it, tools exist to help you. For example ping.fm allows you to post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more in one fell swoop, without actually going onto any of them. This accomplishes two things: it saves boatloads of time logging onto all those sites manually, AND it removes the temptation to stick around “just to check” what others are saying and get sucked in. Other good sites for managing your Facebook presence are Friendfeed and Socialtoo, which is also amazing for Twitter users. Another good one for Twitter users who are also on Facebook: I love Hootsuite, which allows you to pre-schedule your “tweets” and have them post to your Facebook profile or wall as well, at the same time. Sweet.
Go offline on your FB chat. The little thingie that pops up in the lower right hand corner with your old high school lab partner saying “hi” may not be the most welcome or productive activity to focus on in Facebook. Live chat is fine when you are on your recreational time, or if you need a quick response from someone, but if you are going on Facebook for a reason and want to get off quickly, nothing stymies you like the chat. Fixing this is easy. Click on the bar in the lower right that says “chat.” Now click on “options.” Choose “go offline”. The little dot next to the word “chat” should now be grey rather than green. Congratulations, you’re invisible. (But don’t click on chat again to see who is online, because that turns your online status back on. )
Disable notifications. Do you really need to know right now this minute that someone, somewhere, commented on the same post you commented on a week ago about something that happened to a casual acquaintance? These prompts lure you on to Facebook where you promised you would not go until your next scheduled time. Even if you resist, these are a total useless distraction. Go into your settings and turn off notifications for comments. (I keep them for private messages, which may be importeant.) And please don’t tell me that you have comment notifications going to your phone. Turn. Them. Off.
Choose friends with care. Some people will advise you to friend almost anyone who asks you. Others only accept those they have actually met in person. I’m somewhere in between. I “meet” people virtually all the time and count some people as real friends that I’ve never been in the same room with. Since I use Facebook for business, I also find it’s useful and fun to “friend” well-known people in my fields who I may only “know” from their books, speeches or other work they’ve done. But I do not accept people whom:
- I have never met or have only met in passing
- don’t even bother to write a personal message explaining why they are trying to be friends
- have no mutual friends with me
If you don’t want to reject anyone, you can simply not respond. Unfortunately, in trying to be “nice,” I allowed myself to friend a lot of people early on whose names now mean nothing except that they clutter my news feed. And for some reason, the people I barely know and whose posts I couldn’t care less about seem to post a LOT more often than everyone else! If you find yourself looking at your feeds and saying “who ARE these people?” and you don’t want to de-friend them (which you always could), just “hide” them. (See the next section.)
Stay off the farm. I hope you are not participating in any of those “games” on Facebook like Farmville, joining any virtual Mafia families, etc. Betty White recently said on Saturday Night Live that she found Facebook “a huge waste of time”. If she saw Farmville, she might have upgraded that to “a huge #%^@$! waste of time.” But that doesn’t stop some of your friends from announcing every time they’ve added a sheep or pig to their virtual Little House. There’s a wonderful fix for this: just mouse over the offending post. You’ll see the word “hide” in the upper right hand corner. When you click on it, Facebook will ask you if you want to hide the application (any posts containing Farmville) or all posts from this friend. Select “hide application”. If your friend keeps annoying her following with a lot of other time-wasting posts you might consider hiding her too. She’ll never know 🙂
Activity: Make a list of activites, areas of focus and talents. Now go to Facebook and start sorting your friends. In the news feed or your profile, click on “friends” in the left sidebar. In the middle of the page you’ll see a box that reads ” + Create a list”. Click on this, name your list, and checkmark any of your friends and pages that fall into this category. Repeat for all your other areas of focus. Remember, friends can be on more than one list. NOTE: Depending on how may friends you have, this can be a long job. Stop whenever you want and pick it up later. Also, as you add new friends, assign them to lists as you go.
Activity: On your next Facebook session after you’ve done the above, click on “friends” in the left sidebar and choose one of the lists you’ve created, below. Take 15 minutes of focused time browsing that feed and interacting with your tribe in that area. Then do something else!
Do you have any Facebook ninja tips, tools or best practices for DaVincis? Please share them here!!
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