Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What is FaceBook Good For?: Part II

After a little more experience, it looks to me as though the main function of Facebook is to keep me updated on what various people are doing—roughly speaking what I currently do by following other people's blogs—and to keep them updated on what I am doing. While that is worth something to me, it isn't worth very much. I'm not really interested in what most people I know casually are doing, and I'm not even interested in most of what actual friends are doing. When I get a message that actual friend X has just friended stranger Y, my immediate reaction is complete disinterest.

From which my conclusion is that it probably makes sense to keep my total number of Facebook friends small. Hopefully those whose invitations get ignored will not interpret that negatively—one reason for this post.

What I have not figured out how to do is to use Facebook as a way of getting people to either read my webbed work, of which there is a lot up, including the full text of multiple books available for free, or buy my recent self-publishing projects. My guess is that the solution is a fan page for myself, which would feed information out to interested people without absorbing much of time with the reverse stream, but so far I haven't figured out quite how to set up and control such a thing. The closest I've come is to put up some material on the "wall" of my personal page pointing at the things I think people might want to look at, and I have no idea to what extent it is actually being read.


Maurizio said...

Even if you are not interested in what various people are doing, it still makes sense to friend them, in order to let them know what you are doing.

To this purpose, you can friend them and then silence them. (after you click the cross, Facebook asks you if you want to ignore all their posts, say yes.)

I for one would be glad if you'd friend me and then ignore/silence me, so I would be able to read your updates :)

There are many remarks which you would not write on your blog but which would still be of interest to your fans (e.g. funny things that happen to you, your mood, etc).

Kaj Sotala (Xuenay) said...

Personally, I find that an important part of Facebook is that people post lots of interesting links there. This, of course, requires friending people who do post interesting links regularly.

I just recently read an article, , which made made the point rather eloquently:

"Within that shrinking slice of online time, Facebook is increasingly the portal for everything. While the “document Web” (as author Ben Elowitz terms the old-style Web) shrank by 9 percent overall, Facebook consumption increased by 69 percent, essentially stealing time from everything else. [...]

The rise of Google-type search and “knowledge at your fingertips” seemed to herald all that was needed for anyone to find the answer to anything. Just think of something you wanted to learn about, type it in, and, with a click of a button, it was there in front of you in limitless depth.

The problem with that model, though, is that it is reliant on the idea that people know what they want to know to begin with. And, frankly, they often don’t. Hence the importance of Facebook and Twitter: people can passively wait for recommendations on what they need to know. This method is far more passive than active search, but can be more productive. Why? Because of the second problem with the document Web: limitless depth.

Even with the wonders of Google’s search algorithm, the amount of information on the Web can be daunting, especially if you are pressed for time (as the mobile-based internet-user always is). Thus, people not only want to hear from others what they should be learning about, they also want to be reassured that someone they are familiar with and trust has “vetted” the information to begin with. This not only saves time, but dramatically increases the “usefulness rate” of the resulting data."

David Friedman said...


I thought I had the option of putting stuff on my wall that anyone could read, not just friends. Was I mistaken?

dWj said...

Anyone can read the stuff on your wall, if they find it. If they're your "friend", they can get updates as new stuff gets posted. I believe, though, that they can get updates (as long as your privacy setting are appropriately nonstringent) if they have sent you a friend request and you have not yet done anything with it. As long as you don't click "reject" on friend requests (just let them pile up unanswered), I think the one-way update feed will work.

I post a lot of links on facebook -- once in a while to one of your blog posts -- and I follow a fair number of links from other people's facebook posts. I find it a useful source of certain kinds of news, complementary to my other sources.

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

You probably ought to create a "Page" (formerly, I believe, called Fan Pages). They are separate pages that businesses, products, groups (profit and non-profit), and celebrities (like professors ;) use to promote themselves, events, or products. You can keep your personal account (what you currently have set up) strictly personal, and make your Fan Page, very public (btw, I don't think you can have the Fan Page without the personal account). I have a personal page (I don't know if that is the right terminology for it) where my friends and family show up, and a business Fan Page that clients, and those they recommend me to (hopefully, prospective clients) see(

Toni H said...

Once you have properly created a Page and you are the administrator of that page, if you are logged into Facebook (via your personal login) and go to that page, you should be able to read very useful statistics on the subject you mention - how many new people have "liked" your page (and are thus subscribing to any updates you put on the page), how many people have read a certain update you have posted on your page, how many have shared that update to their own friends, etc.

There is also an option of getting a weekly statistics update where the amount of new subscribers, impressions to your posts, etc. are sent to you via an e-mail. I am not sure whether this is sent to you as the page administrator automatically or whether you have to toggle it on.

There are various strategies on how to use your page. Steady, regular updates on interesting things, possibly specific promotions to ramp-up the amount of subscribers (likers), etc.

Bob said...

I meant to include this in the earlier post. A link to where you create a Page:

Michael said...

One of the things that FB has turned out to be good for is coordinating the activities, and exchange of information, between modesst-sized groups of people -- such as "Carolingia", for an example that will mean something to you.

FB wasn't intended for this type of use -- the tools for separating one's various groups from one another are primitive and don't work well, but it's still useful in this way.

Others have commented on how Pages work, so I won't repeat what they have said.

johndiv45 said...

You can a lot of things if you make a page on Facebook.Some use it to keep in touch with family and friends, and there are some to make them famous. While there are those people who use it to promote businesses. It has a lot of functions.

Jonathan said...

I've been on Facebook since 2007, and I'm not an all-out enthusiast: as a specific implementation of a social network, it has some annoying/tedious aspects.

What I like about it (which might apply to any similar social network) are the little unexpected conversations and even friendships that spring up that would never happen by e-mail.

These happen precisely because what appears on my wall can be seen by all my friends, so I find myself having conversations with people I wouldn't have thought to e-mail, or wouldn't have thought to e-mail on that subject.

It also means that all my friends are put in contact with each other through my wall and can have little conversations with each other, even if they've never heard of each other before.

A blog can have similar effects, but there are differences. A blog is usually open to the whole world, not just to selected friends; and people have to take deliberate action to visit each blog, whereas on Facebook it's all served up to you automatically.

Whether Facebook or blogging suits you better depends on you. I find I get much more interaction on Facebook than from blogging, so Facebook works better for me.

Furthermore, on Facebook I'm talking to people I regard as friends. If anyone turns up whom I dislike, I can silence or defriend him/her. I've made very little use of this so far, but it seems a good thing to have in reserve.

If I go on talking too much on your blog, you may wish you could silence or defriend me...

Belinda said...

The most interesting people are those interested in others.