Now more than ever, seniors are using Facebook to reconnect with old friends and keep in touch with loved ones who live far away. In fact, people over 65 are the fastest growing group of people on Facebook. There’s no official “how-to” guide for Facebook, however, some users may find it helpful to get tips on the platform’s social etiquette. If you’re new to Facebook, or know someone who is, check out my list of helpful hints.
It’s easy to forget that Facebook has a broad reach. Unless you monitor your privacy settings, all of your friends, and the friends of anyone you tag, will see your post. Seasoned Facebook users have friends from various contexts and backgrounds and may worry that an acquaintance will see an embarrassing story or picture of them. This is why it is best not to share pictures or information about someone without getting their permission first. Also, be careful not to share information about yourself that is too personal. Some things are better in person.
Posting multiple items in a row
While you may spend a lot of time perusing through posts and interacting with friends on Facebook, sharing multiple items on your timeline within a short amount of time may not accomplish your goal. Frequent postings that don’t garner likes or comments will not show up in your friends’ newsfeed. But when people visit your timeline, a clutter of posts will make it hard for them to see what’s most important. If your goal is for people to see what you post, a good rule of thumb is to limit posts to once or twice per day.
Sharing or clicking without checking the source
Before sharing an article, read it in its entirety and consider researching its claims to see if others sources back up the facts. When you come across enticing headlines, look at the source. Is it shared from a person, website or organization you know? If not, you may want to think twice before clicking if you don’t want to waste your time and see a bunch of ads. To check the validity of a source, I recommend snopes.com or factcheck.org.
Interacting with people you don’t know
Once you build up your Facebook friend base, you’ll likely see comments from people you don’t know on your friends’ posts. It is best not to direct comments at them or make a friend request as you may not have a grasp of who they are and what their relationship is with your Facebook friend. Consider their comments as a conversation between them and your friend. Also, I recommend waiting until after you meet someone in person to request them or accept them as a Facebook friend. If you get a friend request or a message from someone you don’t know, be cautious in accepting as there are fake or scam profiles created regularly.
Manage your privacy settings
Be sure to familiarize yourself with Facebook’s privacy settings often so you can control who can interact with you and who can see your information. Facebook gives you the option to keep things as private or as public as you would like. It’s best to restrict posts to friends to prevent strangers from requesting you as a friend.
Check your posts for errors
Technology novices and experts alike can hastily type something with improper punctuation, spelling errors or other mistakes. It’s worth taking a second glance before choosing to post something. To make a change, you don’t have to delete what you’ve written entirely, you only have to move your cursor to correct the mistake. If you spot an error after posting, you can always edit the post.
Pay attention to context
In real life, most of us adjust our behavior to the context in which we find ourselves. You may not use the same language or share the same stories with acquaintances as you do with close friends or family. Remember that people from all different perspectives can see what you share on Facebook. There is great potential for misunderstandings when there is no face-to-face interaction. Try to avoid posts that could be seen as divisive or controversial and save topics that should be handled with nuance for in-person discussions.
Control who and what you follow
The great thing about Facebook is it allows you to control your own experience. If you find a certain person’s posts to be routinely offensive or even just mildly annoying, you can unfriend them. If you are worried about offending them or you think you might want to check in on their profile from time to time on your own terms, you can unfollow them. This allows you to remain friends without them knowing you have hidden their posts. The same rule applies for following brands and organizations, once you are no longer interested in something feel free to unfollow. It’s best to keep your Facebook experience limited to what you enjoy.
Again, there is no manual for Facebook and as you explore it further you’ll see there are plenty of people who follow and don’t follow these tips. Hopefully our list got you thinking but ultimately, you will have to decide for yourself how you want to use Facebook. Do you have another take on one of the items on our list or do you think we missed something? Let us know in the comments section below!