My only motivation to creating a facebook account was to keep an eye on our teenager. I swear. I even felt a little silly doing it. Wasn't facebook for teenagers and college students? I'll just take a little peek around, I thought, and decide whether or not we would let our girl get on facebook. She had been gently asking to get on facebook for at least a year prior. We firmly resisted until this past fall when she began high school. But, we really had no idea what facebook was all about and had only heard the negatives about sites like myspace. I told K that I would need to check it out first, and then we would make our decision as to whether or not she would be allowed to get on facebook. I signed up and was surpised at how easy it was. Within 24 hours i had navigated around FB enough to see that it was pretty secure (you choose who to communicate with) and had reconnected with some familiar faces from high school! K agreed to give give me her password and to make me her friend (both of which allow me to have access to her page and keep an eye on things) and I agreed to let her sign up for an account.**
Wow...within a week, i was completely hooked. I now understood why some people refer to it as 'crackbook'. I was so surprised to find so many of my friends, former co-workers, high school classmates, and childhood buddies on facebook. What a blast! It was like a mini informal high school reunion...without having to lose 30 pounds prior and trying to find the perfect outfit! Much to my surprise, facebook is not just for the under 30 set. And since my plunge into the facebook pool, my husband, sisters, brother-in-laws, friends and even my mother have joined, too. It really is a lot of fun.
So, how does it work? Facebook is similar to Twitter, in that it prompts you to answer the question, "what's on your mind?" This is called your status. The difference is, you are not limited to characters and FB is a little more involved. On FB, you can search for people that you know simply by typing in their name (many women are listed by their maiden and married names). When you find someone that you want to connect with, you simply request to be their "friend" by clicking a button. They will then receive a message from you with your request. If they want to reciprocate, they click a button and voila!, you are "friends" on facebook. However, until the other person confirms that they know you and want to be your friend, you cannot communicate with them. This keeps the riff raff out. When you sign up for your account, you fill out some questions about yourself...a little profile...your relationship status, education, occupation and some other fluff stuff (like your favorite movies, books, tv shows, etc...). You can upload pictures on FB(you'll need one for your profile picture so everyone can see you!) and join groups that you want to associate with or feel connected to (your former schools, favorite sports teams, hobbies, careers, etc...you name it, there's a group for it). Once you have all that "paperwork" done, it's just all about communicating with the ones you choose to be "friends" with. For example, you might say on your status..."I'm on my third cup of coffee this morning!" and people who are your "friends" will see this when they log in and may choose to leave a comment for you. Or, maybe you see on someone else's status that they are having a bad day. You can leave a comment for them. They are usually quick little one or two liners. It's really like abbreviated e-mailing, but others can see your comments because they are published on your page (also called your 'wall'). It's really much easier than I can explain here and you really do have to see it to understand it fully. I know that people say they just don't have time for FB or twitter. But, honestly, once you've set it all up, and spent a little time learning how to navigate through it, it should only take a few minutes to check in from time to time.
Beyond connecting with friends, what can facebook do for me? I'm so glad you asked. Facebook can do a lot for you if you are marketing a product, looking to drive traffic to another website, or promoting a business or event. Beyond enjoying keeping up with friends, I personally use Facebook to drive more traffic to my blog and online store and also to promote my book. Here's how I do it. I have my own personal facebook page, where I keep in touch with friends and then I also have 2 other facebook pages; one for whimsy studios and one for the book. It works the same exact way as my personal page, but instead of "friends", i have "fans" and instead of talking about my personal life, i talk about what's going on my studio, or what's going on with the promotion of the book. On my whimsy studios page, i can upload pictures of my latest artwork, projects and activities. I might talk about upcoming shows, events or post a link to my blog that I think my "fans" would be interested in. On my Getting to the Heart of Complimenting page, i post pictures of our booksignings and let people know when we are having other booksignings, readings or school visits. When I originally set these pages up, i simply invited everyone who was my "friend" on my personal page to become a "fan" on my whimsystudios and book pages. Some did, some didn't and i've definitely had some come be a "fan" that I don't even know. Because it's not a personal page, anyone can sign up to be a "fan" without my approval. And, that's good...I want lots of fans!!!!! On both of my fan pages, i have links back to my blog and on my book page, you can link back directly to my book's website, where people can purchase the book. I see people come to my blog all the time from my link on facebook. And...I've had several people come to my booksignings who heard about it on my facebook! The beauty of all of it, once again, folks, is that it is totally FREE. That is golden to me and my little shoestring advertising budget. The easiest way to get started building a fan page is to go to mine and look for the little "Create your own page" button in the bottom left corner. FB will completely guide you through from there.
**This mom's word of warning...if you have a teenager on Facebook, or if you are contemplating allowing your teen to get on FB, this note is for you. Everything they write or any photos they upload can and may be used against them. This is the internet...once it's out there, it's out there for good. You can't take it back. Know that what you post today as a teenager may come back to bite you when you are applying to colleges (yes, they do look you up) or looking for a job. My rule of thumb for my teen....don't post anything you wouldn't want your parents, grandparents or your future children to see. The internet is Forever...use your head people!
So, if you would like to become my friend on facebook, you can find me as Lori Mercuri McDonough. Be sure to leave me a little note when you request me as a friend and let me know that you found me on my blog (that way I won't think you are the riff raff! :-) You can easily become a fan on my two pages, by clicking on the links on my left sidebar or by clicking here and here.
For now, this concludes the social networking series...i hope it has been informative for you. I tried to touch on all the things that I learned about these sites that I found to be the most helpful. Let me know if you have any questions and I will continue to share with you any great tips or useful websites that I come across.