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The Facebook Etiquette Manifesto

You know when I sat down to write this article I figured there would be lots of discussion on the internet about Facebook etiquette. But, you know what? I didn’t find anything comprehensive about it. So here we are – I’ll take a pass at it.

A few facts about my Facebook usage… I signed up for Facebook a few years ago and didn’t really use it much until after I got my iPhone. Then I started noticing things on it that got me thinking—does this person know what they are doing by posting that? Or, I do not want that photo posted of me on there. Most of us have had unmentionables posted that we may not have wanted our friends to see. Hopefully the following will be a guide for people on what to post—and not post—on Facebook.

The first item up for discussion is what you should be posting on Facebook. Well… it sounds complicated, but it’s actually really simple. Avoid the staple topics that you wouldn’t discuss in a real life with your friends such as religion and politics. A few of my friends will post about these two topics and I have to bite my hand not to post a scathing reply. There are pages dedicated to many of these topics. It’s better served to post there and not post on your wall about controversial topics. If there isn’t a page, create one. I’m sure you’ll find others who share your viewpoints and to whom you can send a friend request.

Friend requests are a whole ‘nother animal.  I receive millions of friend requests a day. Okay, not really millions, maybe one or two. (I’m not one of the Kardashians after all.) I am sure that many of you reading this have had long-lost friends from high school send you friend requests on Facebook, an awkward invitation if it’s someone you never really liked all that much. Some people don’t really care who their friends are on Facebook and others just want to up their friend count. In both cases, just friend away.

If you don’t fall into the laissez-faire Facebook friend camp, here is what you do. One, you can friend them and put them on the dungeon list (my preferred method). The dungeon list is like telling someone “hey, you can stay here and I’ll throw you some food now and then but don’t expect to eat all the time.” The other way, of course, is to ignore them. The choice is entirely up to you. Friending your co-workers is an entirely different story.

Co-workers should be treated like a wife you’re cheating on. You want to be very careful what you do or say around them. You also want to hide all traces of any wrongdoing.* Or, you can put them on the dungeon list, which again is my preferred method. If you value your career, then it’s probably best to avoid friending them altogether, but if your CEO friends you, then you are on your own.

When someone likes or comments on one of your posts or photos, does it obligate you to do the same? It depends on the situation. If they wished you a Happy Birthday, then yes I would do the same when their birthday rolls around. If they got married, then you say I’m sorry. That was a joke, but you get the point. Do it for important things. That brings me to liking your own posts or photos. Please don’t do this. Again, I REPEAT, please don’t do this. If someone posts a photo of you or comment about you, that’s fair game, but never like something you posted. Unless, you found the cure for cancer, have a picture of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, this is strictly off-limits.

Self-promotion of your wares, services, pet projects, etc. is highly questionable. Make a page for whatever it is that you’re passionate about and every once in a while make a post about it. Don’t do it every day. I’ve seen this happen and it’s annoying. If you’re a musician, for example, send a link to your page with all of your info. Don’t keep flooding your profile with posts about your new music videos or whatever it may be. The reason is that not every one of your friends will be interested in your music or hobby.

Games on Facebook are also a potential minefield of irritation. Farmville, one of the most popular games on Facebook, is also the bane of my existence. I had a friend (emphasis on had), who played this game and would flood my wall with things that she did. I don’t want to know about your fake cow that you just sent to the pasture nor do I want to know about the twelve sheep you recently harvested for wool. With all the time she spent on it, I don’t know when she found time to do her actual job. Luckily, Facebook has a filter for this kind of thing, which is great, but you may want to think about this for your own reputation.

The last item for discussion is dating and relationships. I know Facebook has been used as a dating tool and I’m sure that there have been marriages that resulted from it and also ended from it. Googling Facebook and Marriages shows that the top results are negative, relating to how Facebook can or has destroyed marriages, so if you’re married be careful. You may want to put your significant other on the dungeon list. Oh, and don’t breakup with someone on Facebook. That’s just wrong. I’ve noticed that people are far more open to being a friend on Facebook than providing their phone number. It’s kind of paradoxical, but the success rate is much better. My advice… don’t ask for a phone number, ask to friend them.

Facebook is evolving every day but I hope these rules will help to guide you on how you should conduct yourself. Everyone has different reasons for using Facebook – some for keeping in touch with friends, others for promoting products or services, discussing where to go that night, etc., but remember that Facebook, like anything else, requires etiquette that should be followed.  I hope that this manifesto will forever guide you as long as we don’t start using Google+. 😉


*The Author does not condone cheating on your husband/wife or your boyfriend/girlfriend for that matter.

About Shaan Bose

Name: Shaan Bose Ideal day-off: At the beach number crunching. Turn-ons: Excel, Pivot Tables, SUMIF, VLOOKUP, Debits & Credits, Tulips Turnoffs: People who don’t know what Excel is, bad breath People I would like to meet: Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston (hopefully they’re still alive) Motto: “Act as if you’ve been given a month to live every day of your life” Ambition: To make a Pivot Table that changes the world.