beginner's guide to facebook
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GETTING THE MOST OUT OF FACEBOOK
This guide will help individuals get acquainted with the social media service known as Facebook. Facebook, founded in 2004, is the world’s leading social media service with an estimated 900 million users worldwide. Now far removed from its early days, Facebook has become the goto way that individuals keep up with each other. Indeed, considering it’s user base, the tools that Facebook provides serve individuals greatly in keeping in touch with loved ones, friends (and sometimes enemies!), along with brands and public figures that they love. Today, being connected means everything and is as easy as ever, and Facebook has set out to connect the entire world, one person at a time; in short, it is the epitome of the social network.
This guide will give an overview of some of the more basic functions of Facebook. In short, this guide will show individuals how to set up what is called a “profile page,” how to keep up with their current network of friends as well as how to find old friends that you have have lost contact with, how to add pictures and video, and how to comment on and like content posted by others in your personal social network, amongst other things. Some of these things will be supplemented with pictures to make the process even easier. When it comes down to it, the basic functions are not difficult to understand and anyone interested will have the skills to jump right in and get connected with the world after reading this guide! The Homepage
As long as you don’t already have an account and are currently not logged in, this will be the first thing that you see upon entering http://www.facebook.com into your browser. This is the homepage and serves as the entrance to your profile and being connected with your friends and family. Once you have an account, you’ll be able to head to the top of this page and simply put in your email address and password (which you will choose), and be on your way. For now though, you’ll be focusing on the form under the bolded “Sign Up.” Just give Facebook the information they need here and you’ll be on your way to connecting with millions of people (some of which you know, of course!) Note, as well, that Facebook does need your real first and last name. You’ll also want to give it your real first and last name so that you are easy to find for your friends (they also don’t like fake names so a last name like Somebody or Anyone won’t work). If you’re worried about strangers seeing any particular information, you can deal with that later in the privacy settings of Facebook. The First Four Steps So you’ve given Facebook your first and last name, told them your birthday, and even told them your gender! Well, you’re almost there in regards to having a page. As you can see on the following page, there are four steps you need to complete to have the most basic profile possible.
1. First off, you want to find your friends. Granted many friends of yours are in your email address’
contact list, Facebook can find them easily if they’re on the service. If you decide you don’t want Facebook to use your email’s contact list as a baseline, then simply hit “Skip this step.”
2. Now you’ll want to fill out your profile information. This, in particular, is key. The more information you share here, the easier it will be for your friends (both old and new) to find you. As you can see in the attached picture, you can fill in your high school, college, employer, current city, and hometown information to guide Facebook in the right direction. This will also make it easier for Facebook to find people that you may know through a service it has called “Suggestions.” You never know who you might have forgotten to look for and, sometimes, Facebook helps to lead the charge.
3. At the next step you’ll be asked to choose Interests. This can stem from major brands to public figures and celebrities that update their Facebook pages with fresh content day in and day out. You can choose as many interests as you desire to “follow,” and will see updates on your Facebook page of what they are doing and sharing with their followers. Of course, you don’t have to follow any brands or public figures and can solely use Facebook as a way to keep in touch with friends. If that’s the case, feel free to skip this step as well.
4. Lastly, you’ll be looking to upload a “Profile Picture.” When people search for your name, when you like or comment on something, or when you send or receive a message, your profile picture is what people will see. You can choose one from your current selection of photos on your computer by clicking “Upload a Photo” and navigating to one on your computer, or you can take one right at this point (see the attached picture) if you have a webcam. It’s highly suggested that you have a picture of yourself so that people can easily recognize a profile as yours!
The News Feed So you’ve followed through with the first four steps and you’re ready to start using Facebook. Most of the action from Facebook comes from a little thing called the News Feed. Though there will be much going on on the News Feed as you add more and more friends, the basic idea is quite simple: the News Feed is where all of your friends, family, and followed interests culminate to show you exactly what they all are doing and sharing. It is on the News Feed that you’ll see pictures, videos, stories, status updates, and plenty more all from the people you specifically choose to share information and be friends with. In the attached picture, ESPN (a randomly chosen Interest) is sharing twelve photos. It shows a snapshot of the photos (clicking on the title will bring up the entire album of photos), how many people have liked it (notated by the “thumbs up”), and how many people have commented on the photos, amongst other things.
The more friends that you have, the more your News Feed will be filled with content from others. Likewise, the more content that you post, whether it be photos, videos, or simple status updates talking about your day, the more people will see content from you on your News Feed. This is the lifeline of Facebook and it’s what allows individuals to be social. Surely, you’ll get away from the News Feed due to clicking on photos, videos, and much more from your friends and family, but as you can see in the photo above, you can always get back to your News Feed via the link on the left side of your web browser. Messages Messages is a very simple function but provides one of the best features of Facebook; the ability to privately
communicate with others about things that either don’t belong on your News Feed or that you simply don’t want there.
1. By clicking on the Messages link on the left side of your web browser, you’ll be taken to an area where you can send and receive private messages from any of the people on your friend list. You can even easily send them pictures, videos, and web links. To be clear, nothing you share in a private message between a person on your friend list will be seen by the public on anyone’s News Feed unless you (or the person you’ve been privately communicating with) post the content for the public to see.
2. In the middle of your screen, you’ll see a button that says “New Message.” It is here that you’ll click and be allowed to find a specific friend to send a message to by typing their name into the “To” area of the message. You can also send the same private message to multiple people. Just know that they’ll all be able to see each and every reply that someone types.
3. Once you’ve typed out your message and added any desired files or photos, you’ll simply have to press the “Send” button in order to have your private message sent.
Finding People, Places, and Organizations At the top of your Facebook page, depending on what page you are on, you’ll more than likely see a white search bar that says “Search for people, places and things.” This is another of Facebook’s more powerful functions and this is how you find people that you’re searching for, in effect, automating your connections with individuals that you choose to be friends with.
1. If you’re searching for your old school or a past classmate, you’ll start off by going to the white search bar at the top and typing in the school and past classmate’s name. As you type, Facebook will attempt to match what you’re looking for to speed up the process.
2. If Facebook has automatically found what you’re looking for then feel free to click it from the drop down menu that appears. If a specific person is already in a network you’re in (the hometown, college, and employer information you filled in earlier), you should be able to find them rather easily!
3. If Facebook doesn’t seem to know what you’re typing, simply finish the phrase you’re typing into the search bar and hit the “Enter” key on your keyboard. This will take you to the Search Results page.
4. On the Search Results page, you’ll see plenty of possible matches to the people, places, and things that you’re looking for. Unfortunately, if you can’t easily find someone through the search bar, they may not have a Facebook. If they’ve already told you that they do have one, but you couldn’t get their profile to automatically pop up through the search bar, you’ll have to search for them manually by going down the list of search results.
5. When you find the person that you’re looking for, simply hit the button that has the +1 in it and says, “Add Friend.” They’ll be sent a Friend Request and, if they accept, the two of you will start popping up on each other’s News Feeds.
6. If you can’t find a person through their name early, typing in their name along with their employer, university, or hometown may help dramatically. The idea is to get as specific as possible to easily find your desired friends!
The search bar, just as it can be used for finding people and places, can also be used to find brands, organizations, celebrities, and public figures. If you’re looking for your favorite politician then you need to do no more than type in their name and, if they have indeed set up a Facebook fan page (or they have a personal page), then you simply have to click their name and “Like” their fan page. Just follow the steps above!
In the search bar, Facebook gives more information under a person or organization’s name to help you determine if they’ve found the correct person. For instance, if you’re looking for Gregory R. that went to UNC Charlotte, it may say “Charlotte, NC” and “UNC Charlotte” under his name. In a similar fashion, if you’re looking for a band with a fan page, it will say “Band” under whatever you type into the search bar. The Little Things Though the News Feed and search feature, in regards to the basics, are pretty powerful tools to help you get connected with individuals that you know who are on Facebook, there are plenty of small things that Facebook has that allows you to further communicate with people and, in some cases, allows you to make your own life easier. For one, you’ll want to get acquainted with Notifications which allow you to know when someone has liked one of your pictures, sent you a message, or commented on a status update. You’ll want to take the following steps to ensure that you’re getting the most out of Facebook and the Notifications system.
1. For one, you need to know if you have a notification in the first place. At the top left of any page you’re on in Facebook, you’ll see three images: one of two silhouettes, one of a chat bubble, and one of a globe. If you have a number in a red box beside any of those three images then you have a notification! The number indicates how many that you have.
2. You’ll want to determine what kind of notification it is. If the number is beside the two silhouettes, then that means you have a friend request. When you first join Facebook, you may have a lot of these! If the number is beside the chat bubble, that means that you have a message! Remember! Messages are private! Lastly, if you have a number by the globe, that refers to a more general notification and may mean that someone liked a status of yours, commented on a photo that you uploaded from vacation, or “tagged” you in a post that they want you specifically to see!
3. After noticing which category your notification falls under, you’ll want to click either the two silhouettes, chat bubble, or globe, causing a drop down menu to appear.
4. This drop down menu will have all the notifications for that specific category. You simply have to click which notification you’d like to see and Facebook will navigate you to that particular page! It’s as simple as that! Don’t worry about having to pick and choose as your notifications will always be there.
5. Once you click whichever notification you find most interesting or important, you’ll simply have the chance to reply to a comment, like a comment, or simply do nothing if that pleases you. Regardless, notifications allows you to know when your friends and family are trying to share some kind of information with you or when people are attempting to become friends with you.
Another of those things that can make your life easier is the “Events” feature. After a while, you’ll start to gather a hefty friends list and, in the event that you throw a party or get together, the Events feature will allow you to invite all of your friends, allow them to RSVP (or kindly let you know they can’t make it), and
allow you to update the event as you see fit. It’s a powerful tool that only becomes more powerful as you and your friends join Facebook and become more and more intertwined. On the left side of your Facebook page, you will also see a link for “Groups.” This is a powerful tool that allows you to create a Group that you can subsequently invite individuals of your liking to, allowing you to create mini friends lists for people who may have a common interest. Think of it like this: you have 300 friends on Facebook, but 10 of you have a book club meeting each month. You could create a Group for the book club meeting, invite the 9 other people in the club, and then post content to them specifically whether it be next month’s book or to let them know the meeting can’t be held at your house this week afterall! If you are friends on Facebook with some individuals that you work with, but don’t want them to see some of the things you say or do in your personal life, simply add your coworkers to a Group, and set up your privacy settings so that that specific work Group can’t see what you post in certain or all circumstances. Like I said, pretty powerful stuff.
Privacy Though individuals do see the benefit of being completely connected with their friends, families, and favorite celebrities, people still want their privacy. Facebook has plenty of tools to ensure that you control who sees what exactly, who can find you, and who can contact you. To the far right of the search barbeyond your name and picture, “Find Friends,” and “Home,” you’ll see a circular gearlike image that notates where “Settings” is (see the attached picture). If you click it, it will allow you to click on “Privacy Settings.” On the Privacy page, you’ll notice three bolded areas: “Who can see my stuff,” “Who can contact me,” and “Who can look me up.” Of course, they all help you do what they say by controlling whether or not the
public, friends, and specific groups can see content that you post or even find you if they search for you. On the left side, you’ll also see many links, one of which includes “Blocking.” This, and it is appropriately titled, allows you to block certain individuals, “apps,” and even event invites. It’s a pretty useful tool if the annoying guy from college finds you after all these years and attempts to connect with you again! Conclusion When it comes down to it, Facebook is a pretty powerful tool that allows you to keep in touch with whomever you please (as long as they have Facebook!) The most basic functions are easy to grasp and with a tiny bit of practice, you’ll be connecting with friends, past, present, and future, with a few clicks of your mouse each time. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for friends and family to find you by giving Facebook the needed information to put you in specific networks. If that worries you, remember, you can always tinker with your privacy settings so that you control exactly who sees what.