Facebook continues to go from strength to strength. With more than 500 million people having registered a profile, Facebook has quickly become the leading social networking site to be seen and connect with others.
With such rapid expansion, it makes sense that many people are jumping in head first without really knowing what they doing, hoping to learn as they become more familiar with navigating their way around Facebook.
Unfortunately, this also means not all users know how to properly use the site’s features and can stumble into faux pas without even realizing. Knowing what to do and, more importantly, what not to do, will help you develop better connections and build lasting relationships with your new found Facebook friends.
Here then are seven practical etiquette tips you can apply right now to make connecting with people on Facebook a more rewarding experience for you.
Include a personal message with your friend request
This is a favourite of mine, because doing this one simple step will immediately set you head and shoulders above the rest.
No! Take a few extra minutes to create that connection and include a message saying where you know the person from. You may have met somewhere in the past, through a friend or simply know a mutual contact.
In this way, you’ll immediately make a personal connection and the person you’re befriending will have an idea where you met each other and what you do.
2. Do not sell on hello
We’ve all been there. You’re at a networking event. You’re mingling and then you spot them. The person “working” the room, business cards in hand. They move swiftly, effortlessly from person to person, leaving a trail of bewildered business people in their wake. Now they are headed for you. What do you do? Avert your gaze? Quickly join a group of others as there’s safety in numbers? Then they are upon you, sharing their well rehearsed spiel as you look for an escape route.
No one likes to be sold to on hello. So why would you do it online? This is a total rookie mistake.
I’ve seen some business owners so eager to sell their products and services they start spruiking their wares before you’ve even connected with them as a friend! They’ll send you a Facebook message laden with sales copy and links to their website or business page.
If someone did this face to face, what would be your reaction? Remember, you don’t know this person yet as you haven’t met them before. It’s absolutely no different online. Don’t do it.
Far better to get to know the person first and what he or she does for a living and leave the selling for a later stage once you know it’s something they may need.
3. Do not post links on a friend’s wall
Unless you have already developed a great connection and relationship with your Facebook friend, do not post links on their wall.
I’m amazed at how many people that you’ve just met post a link to their website, a video or their business page on my personal profile wall.
Adding you as a friend does not give you the right to use that’s persons profile wall as advertising space! Get to know them first and if you wish to share a link, pop it into a message and send it to them that way.
That then gives the recipient the option of deciding whether to share your link or not.
4. Do not use the Facebook chat box for promoting your business
This one is simple. You either love to use the Facebook pop up chat box or your loathe it.
Personally, it’s my pet peeve because it’s what I call “interrupt driven”. I’ll be in the middle of something and BOOM, up jumps the chat box demanding my immediate attention.
So, first rule of thumb: find out if the person you want to chat with likes to communicate this way. Then respect their choice.
Second, using the chat box to request people to “like” your Facebook business page, promote your event, visit your website, you get the idea, is an absolute no, no. There are far better, more effective avenues to do this, such as sending a personal message.
It astounds me to this day that people I have never met and who have never bothered to join in a conversation on my wall, use the chat box to ask me to promote their stuff.
5. Automate but remember to still connect
It’s absolutely fine to use one of the many automation tools out there (such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Social Oomph) that will enable you to manage your different social media accounts in one place. These tools also conveniently allow you to schedule posts in advance to save you time and automatically link your blog to your Facebook business page.
But be aware that if all your posts and updates are shared via an automation tool, for example from Twitter or via Hootsuite, people will quickly work out that you never personally visit your Facebook profile or business page.
When posts appear on Facebook, there is a small line at the end of the post that identifies the source of the post (eg: 9 hours ago via Twitter). This tells the reader whether you are “there” personally or not.
So from time to time, make sure you still personally post to your profile, comment on friend’s posts and check your messages.
6. Quotes are great, but offer more substance
Sometimes, you may find inspirational quotes while reading a book or browsing on the internet and feel the need to post it on your Facebook wall and share it with friends. These quotes can be very inspirational for others and generate lovely comments.
But if you only ever post quotes (and I’ve seen it done), you’ll bore the pants off your friends!
So as well as quotes, why not share insights into your daily life experiences, who you’ve met, what you’ve been up to, what you’ve learned and engage with your Facebook friends.
7. No one cares about “mutual friends”
Facebook suggests friends to you all the time and often you’ll have what is called “mutual friends”. You may not know one another, but because you are both connected to a third party on Facebook, Facebook suggests that you two both connect as well.
In truth, as far as Facebook goes, there’s really no significance if you have mutual friends or not. In fact, no one cares how many mutual friends you have!
Please resist the urge to include a message saying “hey, we’ve got umpteen mutual friends, let’s connect”. It means nothing. You need to do better than that and show that you’ve taken the time to at least look at the person’s profile.
Follow each of these simple steps and start connecting with your Facebook Friends.
If you have a favourite faux pas, make sure you share it via the comments section below.
By Wendy Moore
Copyright 2011 Savvy Web Women Pty Ltd
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Wendy Moore is the founder of www.savvywebwomen.com and creator of the Savvy List Building Blog – the information packed resource that shows business owners and entrepreneurs how to get in front of an audience that wants to buy what they are selling. To receive your FREE Special Report and weekly how-to articles to expand your online List Building toolkit, visit www.wendymoore.net.