Part 3 – The basics of the site
Facebook’s basics are easy to master, but if you skip learning them, it can slow you down massively – there are several functions on the site that most people don’t use, and could, to get more out of their networking, and sharing with friends.
42. Posting updates
The main basis of Facebook is the ability to post short (420 characters) updates – you can tag friends in these by going @ (name) or simply tell people what you’re up to. Some people take part in mini-games in these too – the choice is only limited by character length.
43. Auto subscribing
Commenting or liking someone’s status or notes or anything else in their feed will automatically ‘subscribe’ you to notifications about any future activity. You can reply to this, however, from your email, which means you don’t need to log into the site constantly.
44. The notification bar
At the top of the page, there is a blue bar with four icons – this is your quick overview of any activity aimed at you. This includes anything you’ve subscribed to by participating in it.
45. Your newsfeed
Your news feed comes with several options – you can read the most ‘important’ stuff (based on Facebook’s algorithm), or the most recent posts. Missing friends? Scroll to the bottom and click ‘edit options’. Put 5000 in the bottom box – it’ll remove all limitations on your feed.
46. Not interested in a friend’s updates right now?
If for whatever reason, you don’t want to see a friend’s update (for example, their updates are only about games you don’t play) you can hover over their update, and a box will appear saying ‘hide’ – you’ll get different options based on what sort of update you’ve hovered over.
You can have a public discussion by posting something on someone’s wall. This appears in your feed and there, so is great for congratulating someone, or wishing them a happy birthday. Walls are public though, based on the person’s settings.
48. Boxes and tabs
Various apps will allow you to add boxes and tabs to your profile. Boxes appear on a page, and are small – tabs are headings much like a filing cabinet. These can give you the ability to display key information on your pages, or in separate ‘subpages’ but can also clutter your profile page – be careful what you place and where.
49. A box on your profile
There is a box on your profile, (when you click view profile) which can be readily edited and contains some key information that you choose. Some people use it to show others their calendar; others display a quote or some mini information. Use this as best you see fit to give your friends and new adds something interesting to read.
50. Left-hand side – your profile
Your profile has several key areas to interact with – the middle where your feed is, your left-hand side, to access your stuff) and the right-hand side which has suggestions, your gifts and other items from apps, and some other things, such as pokes.
51. Messages – your messages are your internal email inbox.
This gives you the opportunity to message people without writing on their wall (see the previous tip) or start a discussion between friends – if you’re doing this frequently see our tips on pages and groups.
You can set up events – a bit like a calendar, people can RSVP and you can use it to invite friends to anything you’re doing, from a birthday party at your place, to a gaming party or Guild event in your favorite MMORPG. Use it to organize social events without worrying about lost emails.
53. Removing events you can’t attend
Once you have declined an event, you can then remove it from your events list – simply open up the event, optionally leave a note apologizing for not attending then directly below the image on the right-hand side, there is an option ‘remove from my events’.
54. Photos and videos
Your photos and videos list item will let you access any photos that are tagged of you (remembering your privacy settings) and review them. You can also remove tags at any time – which means even though you are in the photo, it won’t list in your stream.
All of your applications are accessible from this tab – it will take you through to a list of most used and when, and will also give you options to access others. This is a great tab to review what apps you do – and don’t – use and remove them to save them cluttering your feed, or visit them and check what’s new. You can also search for new apps from there.
Much like the applications menu option, the games option shows you when you’ve played, whether your friends play (and how many) and allows you to explore popular games amongst your friends and the wider Facebook population that you may not have seen yet.
57. Ads and pages
We talk more about ads and pages in their own section (Part 5 – ads and pages) but this is how you access them quickly, and if you choose to advertise them, set up Adsense like adverts.
Your groups’ menu item is actually the access to your pages and groups, two columned lists with each showing recent activity and more. You can easily view the things you may have missed simply by checking the recent activity on these pages.
Notes are a bit like mini-blogs or can be used by you to import RSS feeds and automatically post. Its Facebook’s own solution to lifestreaming, but only allows you to import one RSS feed at the time. You could build a Yahoo pipe of everything you wanted to import and use that as your ‘uber feed’ if you had a lot of blogs though, so it works out well.
Your links menu option is a lot like Del.icio.us – every time you post a link, it’s added to this list, and you can view what your friends have been posting recently, or just keep track of your own stuff.
61. Right hand side
The right-hand side of your page contains any application items (such as gifts – be aware that these build up really fast), friend suggestions, information on inactive friends, pokes and event listings (that you’ve accepted).
62. Gifts and application notices
Facebook has suggested that eventually these will all be incorporated into the left bar of the site, where your games are listed, but for now you will still get listings of any gifts, invites to games or any other requests (including friend requests) in that top right corner. You should keep on top of the – 20 invites a day leads to 140 at the end of a week and it can be time to consume to prune them weekly.
63. Application notices out of control
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try your application lists will get out of control. You can either dedicate time to fixing them or quit the app in question – by clicking ‘ignore app’. You can also ignore a friend’s invites, but not the friend themselves... Reload the page and any you’ve ignored should be gone.
Facebook has an algorithm that chooses information to show you – when people friend other people, sometimes you will have suggestions – as they do with pages and groups. These suggestions and they can’t see your profile (and until they add you, you won’t see their whole profile). Suggestions can be hidden or ignored.
Poking allows a person to see your profile (even if they aren’t their friend). If they are your friend, it will give them a message the next time they log into their Facebook in the right-hand bar of their page. Any pokes you’ve received will be here too for you to respond to.
You will see a list of any events you’re confirmed to attend in your sidebar – this is a great feature because you can simply align your diary by reading that area and booking it into your time management system of choice. You can also click through and turn down events, or see who else is attending.
If you have used Facebook to place an ad, you will find that they appear in the right-hand bar. If you keep seeing an ad, you can report it so Facebook can fix their algorithm for showing them, or hide them entirely from you.