I need to make better use of Facebook.
When I started using Facebook almost four years ago, I understood the basic idea: connecting and reconnecting with friends. I enjoyed some of that right away, finding an old college friend I hadn’t seen or heard from in years and staying in better touch with lots of other friends.
But I didn’t understand other things: For instance, I found it annoying when a friend wanted to compare favorite movies. I didn’t want to annoy the friend by not playing, but I didn’t really care to find out if I was “soulmates” with a casual friend (as one game suggested about a friend with similar favorite movies). Somehow, I don’t think soulmate is defined as someone you drift out of touch with until a computer program finds the person.
As I was trying to figure out Facebook, I started using Twitter, which was even more confusing at first (fewer friends were using, and I didn’t understand the 140-character limit). But as I started to understand Twitter and use it more, it quickly soared past Facebook in my understanding, appreciation and use.
When I learned that a Facebook app would post most of my tweets to Facebook (not replies), I suddenly was able to become active on both platforms, without having to master social media multitasking.
I also became a Facebook over-user.
You can tweet a few dozen times a day and that’s fine. But no one likes when people update that often on Facebook. By the time I learned about that bit of social media etiquette, I already had some true friends hiding my updates. But other friends who weren’t on Twitter were responding frequently to me on Facebook. That was good, so I decided to let it ride. Just as we all tolerate some quirks of our real-life friends, I appreciated that some Facebook friends were tolerating my tweets and accepted that others were hiding them.
I let that ride too long.
I blogged about how annoying it is for people to auto-sync their Foursquare and Twitter accounts, so that every check-in or every mayorship becomes an automatic tweet. (I do selectively tweet sometimes from Foursquare, commenting on what I’m doing where I’m checking in.) I was right in that tweet, but I should have recognized then that my auto-syncing with Facebook and Twitter was just as annoying.
As social media director for Journal Register Co., I have been watching recent developments in Facebook and planning to blog for my JRC (and now MediaNews) colleagues about using Facebook effectively as a journalist. But first, I should clean up my act.
So I just un-synced my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I considered whether to keep them synced, but not automatic, but I know I’m not likely to remember very often to put #fb on tweets I want posting to Facebook. So I’m going to tweet when I should tweet and update when I should update. When I’m using Tweetdeck, I may selectively post to both accounts. But no more auto-posts of tweets on Facebook.
In my first few months at JRC, I have been focusing more on Twitter than on Facebook – partly because more journalists are using Facebook and largely because most journalists don’t recognize how valuable Twitter can be. But part of the reason was because I wasn’t using Facebook as well as I should be.
That’s going to stop now. I need to set an example for colleagues by cleaning up my bad habits and engaging more effectively on Facebook. I recently launched my Facebook journalist page. I’ve been posting most of my blog posts there, but I’ll try to post there a couple more times as well.
I’ll keep a mix of personal and professional content on my Facebook profile, too. Many of my friends there are journalists. And others, if they haven’t hid my updates by now, are either interested in or tolerant of updates about journalism. I frequently join the Facebook conversation, commenting on friends’ updates and “liking” some of their updates.
I probably will continue sharing more photos on Flickr than on Facebook, though I may share some photos both places. We’ll have to see how that develops. Flickr was the first social platform I used heavily and I like having my photos collected there.
I’ll be blogging soon about ways journalists can use Facebook to engage the community and improve their journalism. And I’ll do a better job of showing them.