Thing 10 2013: Facebook

Facebook is a social network service that builds online communities of people by connecting people who share interests and/or activities. Facebook elicits mixed reactions from groups of people. Some love it; some loathe it. Even those who love it often loathe particular elements. You do not have to sign up to Facebook to complete this Thing, although we suspect many of you have already and we encourage you to do so in order to see what it’s all about. Instead, we’ll ask you to think about Facebook’s purpose and how it might be used.

Facebook is the world’s biggest social network, with over 1 billion active members. Most people use Facebook to socialise with friends and families by sharing photos, updates and news. It is less commonly used by individuals as a professional tool, but it allows you to set up ‘pages’ (rather than personal accounts) for brands, businesses, institutions, and campaigns. Both professional pages and your personal account can be powerful tools for building your online presence and staying up to date; Facebook is now the 2nd most visited website in the UK (after Google), and 60% of the population looks at FB at least once a day (2012 econsultancy Social Media Statistics Compendium). Those are impressive stats!

If you’d like to join Facebook and haven’t yet, it’s fairly easy to sign up from the homepage and create a profile. You might want to take some time to explore Facebook’s privacy policies, as they’re an area of concern for some. You’ll also want to make yourself aware of the ways in which you can limit access to your posts and account (or not, depending on the purpose of your Facebook use). You can use your privacy settings to ensure that only friends or only particular people see what you put up. This is useful – and highly recommended – if you’re using Facebook in a purely personal way.

As mentioned, Facebook has both personal ‘profiles’ and organisational/institutional ‘pages’. If you’re new to Facebook, take some time to find contacts and play with its features. Facebook’s Help Center is quite good and can help explain things like the Timeline.

Whether you’re new or a seasoned user, go to the Engage: Social Media Michaelmas page and ‘Like’ it. To find our page, do a simple search in the search box at the top. When you like a page, information posted on it will appear in your news feed on your Facebook home page. The same is true of those you are friends with.

Other pages (all of which can be viewed with or without Facebook membership) that you might be interested in are:

Exploring further
If you’re really interested in creating a page for an institutional department, or in taking your Facebook use further, feel free to take a look through this presentation by Liz McCarthy of the Bodleian Libraries on ‘Facebook pages that work’ (note: Edgerank is no longer is use – ignore that slide!).

Blog post

Feel free to talk about all of this week’s things in one post, as they lend themselves to comparison and discussion. Do you think Facebook is useful or not, and why? If you use it, how do you use it, and what do you get out of it? If you don’t want to use it, why not?

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