Saturday, August 16, 2008

How To Use Facebook

A lot of folks reading this will be Facebook users and may wonder why on earth should anyone need to write any kind of “How to ….” because there can be a throw off “anyone can use Facebook” attitude. To me this is a bit like getting vague directions to a place that ends with “ ….. can’t miss it” which usually leads into getting lost for hours trying to find the place I am told I “cant miss”.


So, this is my discovery of Facebook that I would like to share with you.


It was my daughter, Ivy, who introduced me to Facebook. When she joined Facebook her main interest was finding a site where she could easily post photo snaps to share with family and friends. Ivy lives in New Zealand well away from family and away from many friends she grew up with. Sharing photos online became her way of keeping in touch.


For awhile I would get emails asking to join Ivy and see her photos at different sites, such as Ringo. Eventually she landed at Facebook and to see her photos then I had to sign up for Facebook myself. No problem, its a simple fast sign up and worth it to see her latest snaps.


However, it did not take long before I received “email notifications” from strangers wanting me to look at pictures of them doing silly things and exchanging weird useless virtual gifts. I ran away from any interest in Facebook and continued to develop my networks on MySpace and Yahoo365.


Though I ran away from using Facebook I had discovered two benefits there that no other social network seemed to have. At the time broadband connection had not arrived in our village and Facebook was far easier to access and use with a dial up connection compared to MySpace. The second benefit were the 1000s of plug-in applications for specific interests and tasks such sharing specific interests, calendars, organisers, gig listing, music play lists, virtual office tools. The range was endless. I thought this had potential and i would come back when Facebook matured.


Well, a couple of months ago, to me, it did mature with the introduction of New Facebook.


My work in Ireland tourism, folk drama theatre and promotion of Celtic traditions has expanded my needs of both archiving and sharing of video clips, audio clips, photo albums and multimedia blogs and podcasts. To do all of this from a privately hosted website is very expensive. Due to fast falling costs of hard drives data storage is now very cheap these days but bandwidth costs from from data sharing and transfer is not. On top of that, promoting a web site to bring people to it and use it is extremely time consuming and to save that time is very expensive when employing others and services.


Along comes the so called “Web 2” revolution, the emergence of “social sites” who can host heavy bandwith services free or at low cost because they attract advertising revenue due to their pooling of millions of people who use their services.


I put my video clips up on YouTube, not the best quality format but it does the job


I put my audio up on places like Last FM, iLike, Reverb Nation etc


I put my photo albums up on Google's Picasa, I’m not a fan of Flickr as I find their uploading slow and messy


I put my text and multimedia blogs up on Google’s Blogger


I put our gig and event listings up on Yahoo’s Upcoming and Eventful


I put my short notice microblogs up on Twitter


So this is what happens on New Facebook


All of those posts I make on all of those other sites are automatically posted simultaneously on my New Facebook Profile page so my New Facebook page is actually much more useful, much more up to date and much more active than my web site ever could be.


The Facebook linkage to other networks is a main mission of Facebook now. MySpace does not have a service like this. Its only real linkage is to YouTube and other linkages can be worked in with tweaking but it requires a bit of IT nerd instinct to do this. With Facebook you now go to a networking menu and click the other social sites you are on that you want to link to your Facebook Profile page. Perhaps I need to add here that a Facebook Profile page is what you may call a Home Page.


Add to this the millions of people who use Facebook daily who are much easier to reach and connect with than through search engines such as Google and chasing after web site links. Being on Facebook and creating an active Profile page also gets you updated and well listed on Google and other search engines too, much easier than with your own web site.


The social benefits


One delightful surprise I have had with Facebook is the connecting up with family members, several I have not seen for a long time and even some I never knew about. I can  say the same about lost friends. Today I am having wonderful social exchange with friends I had lost contact with and thought I would never meet again. So away from my work and profession Facebook has been priceless and precious for what I am tempted to say “gave me my life back”.


Recently, added functions to Facebook have included special interest groups that Facebook community members can join, share and interact with people of common interests, a great way to make new friends and strengthen existing friendships. You can start your own groups and find people to join these too.


Another delightful utility introduced is the Facebook Fan Pages. At first, if you are a musician you can set up a music page, just like on MySpace but I think Facebook is much better. What annoys me most on MySpace is going to a page and be blasted by some audio and video before the page even reveals itself. On a dial up connection this can be devastating and totally freeze a PC. Even on broadband I find these auto-playing MySpace pages are on steroids so I just shut them down without bothering to review what’s there. On Facebook you go to the page and then play streams by choice. I like that. I like the easy presentation.


Now these Fan Pages have opened for all kind of industries. I have a tourism page now, for example.


The best social benefit of all


Perhaps the best social benefit of all is how Facebook groups people together and they arrange to meet and get together offline somewhere. Sometimes this is at a gig of an artist they are fans of, a sports event that’s a common interest, a group vacation even, or just a bbq to get to know each other. Now that is social networking!  MySpace groups and Yahoo Groups achieve this, but not as actively as I have discovered on Facebook.    


So what about those silly spammy invitations on Facebook?


Yes, this can be irritating until you know how to handle it.


One wonderful thing on Facebook is that I have yet to be phished like what happens when spammers take over MySpace pages, and not blasted with porno ads like what happened to me on BeBo. Each of those invitations come from amongst the 1000s of plug ins available for us by Facebook people. 


When you receive this kind of invitation there’s one side of you that will think that your Facebook friend is trying to send you a special gift and you do not wish to upset that person’s gesture so you are tempted to join. By joining you will set off a viral spamming to all of your Facebook friends. The rule here is to truly think about whether you want to join an application rather than if joining will please a friend.


An example where I accepted an invitation was an application that tested how “Green” you are in your life. I chose to go ahead with this as it is a personal interest, fits into the branding of my work, and has turned out to be something that I have enjoyed being part of and learned from. However, this application is not for everyone. Be frugal, conservative and analytical of any application you are invited to join on Facebook. Only accept if you know it is really for you.


If you do that then you will delight in your Facebook profile and networking, and may even wonder how you lived and socialised without it. However, a final tip, of course, is still not to let Facebook rule you. Its a tool to use while it is available.


At our new Two Worlds little theatre we are going to run local courses on using Facebook


These are for the elderly, performers, small businesses or anyone really.


As most of you do not live near us I can offer you some free help with your Facebook or setting up and using your Facebook online. Just contact me though my contact page .


Of course, you are more than welcome to come here for a short break vacation for one of our Facebook courses as well as explore our wonderful ancient sites, spectacular scenery and Irish traditions. I can arrange accommodation, meals and transport if this sounds like a good idea.


Looking forward to sharing with you on Facebook 


 

2 comments:

  1. Did you ever read a book by Alfred Watkins ( I think that's his name) called the Old Straight Track. It's about the ley lines or energy lines of the earth. I was thinking of getting it and I wondered if you thought it was worth reading Joan

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  2. Old Straight Track is interesting, now quite ancient book, and worth getting. I believe this was my first readable introduction to the mythology of landscape alignments, and I was about 8 or 9 years old when I first read it.

    Alfred's theories may seem quite odd now but it did open the door for further researches and publications. One of the best since has been the world best seller "View Over Atlantis" by John Michel and I strong ly suggest getting both books.

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