January 19, 2011

Facebook and Twitter: Enough Already?

Are you getting a little tired of reading about Facebook? For goodness sakes, Hollywood has already made a movie about it. People are crawling all over each other to invest in it. The estimate of Facebook's value is $35 Billion. What about Twitter? Express yourself in 140 characters? (That's about 70% less than this post so far). 200 million users and a value of $4 Billion say, yes. You can't be on the Internet, reading a newspaper or a magazine, watching television, or talking with a younger person without being exposed to the whole concept of social media.

2009 was the year that social media began to really grab us by the mouse. Of those who use the Internet nearly 47% of all respondents to a recent survey actively maintain a profile on the social web. Just one year earlier only 15% had such a presence. Mirroring the results of a study I quoted last month our age group is most fond of Facebook. 73% of active computer users in that study claim to maintain a Facebook profile. Another sign of the importance of social media? Here's a real stunner: people 74 and older represent the fastest growing demographic on these sites.

What's the Attraction?
Why are Facebook and Twitter or photo sites like Flickr becoming so important in our lives? The primary reason seems to be the ability to extend our socializing. As we get older maintaining connections becomes both increasingly difficult and important. Friends move away, or we do. Adult children live in distant cities. We lose track of college friends. We can't see the grandchildren as often as we'd like. We want to make new friends. We want our voice to be heard.

Other reasons given include learning something new or to promote a new business venture or a blog. I know some folks who have a Facebook page so they have something in common to talk about and share with a grandchild during visits.

On the other hand, many of us are hesitant to enter this world due to very legitimate concerns about privacy. If you are not careful it is quite possible to allow the entire world to see something you wanted to keep between you and your best friend. It can become addictive. It is easy to spend hours a day looking at the constant flow of new information and photos that end up on your Facebook page or Twitter account. Some people collect Facebook "friends" the way others collect quilts or recipes. The number of people listed becomes a status symbol, not real communication.

My Attitude is Changing
My position on the place of social media in my life is changing rather rapidly. I didn't see any value to me. I avoided the entire scene until June of last year when I started this blog. Suddenly a Twitter account became a crucial way for me to promote my existence. I added a second account in November. Now I am tweeting with abandon. It was quickly obvious, however, that Twitter is virtually useless for real communication with people. While it started out as a way for people to exchange very short messages with friends and family, those days are over. Today it is almost exclusively a promotional and marketing tool for individuals and businesses.

I admit I have a Facebook account but have done absolutely nothing with it. Frankly, I haven't had the time to become comfortable with how it operates. And, with my daughters and grandkids living in town posting photos and staying in touch is much easier than using Facebook: we get in the car and drive 30 minutes or they drop by our house for a visit and dinner.

Even so the research I read and the requests to become a "friend" on Facebook are changing my attitude. I am beginning to see it as something I should know more about. I can't really call myself a complete blogger for those seeking to build a satisfying retirement if I avoid one of the major tools many of my readers use.

If you read my New Year's post about goals for this year, you are aware I have promised to have an e-book ready by the first of March. That is less than a month and a half from now. Add to that the posting schedule of fresh articles three times a week, working on a site to help sell my wife's artistic photos, a full plate of volunteer activities, and a part time job that can take 10-15 hours a week and I'd be insane to decide to learn Facebook now.

My Plan
I'm insane. I am going to learn about Facebook and start to make my page  something worthy of a visit. Maybe it will be a place where you and I become "friends" and exchange photos, information, and stories. Maybe it will be a place where I make contact with old friends I have lost touch with over the years.

I'm not setting a goal based on a date. But, I am putting Facebook Building into my calendar and to-do list. So, slowly over the next several weeks if you are a Facebook user (and a lot of you are) you should see something begin to blossom. It might be interesting if I report on my progress, the problems I encounter and the things I am learning. If you decide to become a Facebook user maybe my experiences will help you save time and aggravation.

Book Giveaways
As another incentive to check on my progress, I have purchased a few books to help me become Facebook literate. As I move forward in this project I will be giving away copies of these books (new ones, not the ones I've used!). Read about my progress on this blog. When I indicate I am giving away a book or two, respond to the e-mail request. I'll randomly pick one or two and send you the book, free and with no further obligation. This may spur you to enter the exploding world of social media, or help you make the most of what you have already done.

If you are already comfortable with Facebook, I ask a favor: leave a comment here about some things I should be aware of and things I should do and not do. Or, send me an e-mail if your hints and tips are a bit too long for this site. Finally, watch for my Facebook page, become a friend, and help me develop a page I can be proud to point to.

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  1. I originally got on Facebook to promote my health website but was soon contacted by old high school friends-lol. Three of my kids are on it so when they post photos of the grandkids, my other friends can see them too, which is nice

    One tip, when you get on Facebook, sign up for "network blogs" and put your blog on there. Every time you publish a new post, it shows up in your feed and your friends see it. People can also subscribe to it through Network blogs so it shows up in their feeds too. I've gotten some nice comments from blog postings that show up on my Facebook page.

    There is a space for privacy settings so do those first.

    I don't post a lot of Facebook myself but it's nice to get once a day and see what everybody else is up to. I reconnected with two high school friends I haven't seen in years, which is nice.

    I've got two twitter accounts also and I agree, it's become pretty much an internet marketing area but I do post links to my new blog posts and sometimes get visits from it.

  2. Good morning Joan,

    Thanks for the excellent tip on the network blog feature. I'll be sure to use that function.

    A friend sent me a blog post about Facebook privacy and security to be sure I stay safe. I read in the paper a few days ago that if you have Facebook open and then go to other web sites it tracks were you visit. Whether that is true or not, it is another reminder that the Internet can be a dangerous place if you don't pay attention.

    I'll look for you on Facebook, Joan!

  3. Consider having a persona facebook where only your invited friends can view contact as well as a "business" page. I have family all over the country and in the cayman islands and facebook is a great way to communicate instantly=and then I have a page for my errand business that is totally separate. If I do one for my blog, it will be the same.

  4. See what I'm learning! A personal facebook and a business page. Sounds logical, Barb. Thanks for the heads-up. The learning begins.

  5. Okay, I'm hearing the same things you are. Your resolve to embrace this new fangled communication is an inspiration. I might try to be a little more open to it. Thanks!

  6. Maybe we will see each other on Facebook, Galen! I'm not sure how my experiment will go, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

  7. I don't post any critical info on facebook. I'll post pictures of climbs AFTER I come home. The greatest use of FB for me is finding old friends from high school, college and grad school. I was happy to find my senior-high prom date, who had vanished into the Oregon woods in 1975. Usually, when we connect, each party says that they are happy to see that an old friend is doing well and has a wonderful life. After that, it pretty much drops off. I have no interest in finding new friends ( my life is very full already), but I have been pleased to see that friends from my life are happy and successful.

  8. Very interesting, Keith. You are using FB in the way it was probably initially intended to be used: to connect real friends who had lost touch.

    Critical information needs to stay private. I'm reading a book right now by Terri Blackstock about an on-line predator and how easy it is for him to get very personal information about trusting young women. While the book is fiction, I don't doubt it is happening.

    I probably will lean in the "real friends" direction. With close to 2,000 Twitter followers, I have enough input from people I don't know.

    Thanks for sharing Keith.

  9. Pat, a friend of mine, wants to know if I'd be willing teach a class to people interested in exploring the Facebook world. That might be fun. I'll get back to her in a few months when I know what I'm doing!

  10. Let me know how this works out for you. I am still facebook-free although my wife has an account so we can interact with the kids. For me the amount of time is the main concern - you really could sit in front of the screen all day with new things coming in all the time. And I have yet to figure out how facebook can be effectively used for a business page. The "fan pages" that I have visited are still 80%+ personal pictures and comments. But I
    try to remain open minded! :)

  11. I will certainly keep you posted. Joan commented that it is possible to have a blog FB page which could be a good promotional tool.

    I started the process yesterday with a basic page and info. I received the books from Amazon yesterday so I'll start going through their suggestions.

    The forced march through the technology jungle continues!

  12. I recommend you go into the Privacy Settings under "Account" in the upper right-hand corner.

    Under "sharing on facebook" choose customize settings. Change every setting to share only with friends. Then go back and figure out which things (perhaps your website) to show to everyone and which to show to no one.

  13. Thanks for the hint, Syd.

    I think that is the way I am presently set up but I will double-check. The article you steered to to a few weeks ago about Facebook privacy is on my reading stack, also.