If you’re like me, you don’t like having your life sucked away.
In other words, you don’t like spending a lot of time on Facebook, even if your compulsive FOMO draws you back from time to time.
If you’re smart, you’ve already eliminated your Facebook newsfeed. But if you’re really being honest, you know that completely skipping out on Facebook is a huge missed opportunity for relationship-building and personal branding.
The key for people like us is using Facebook intentionally. Of all possible ways to use Facebook are a few activities that provide the most value. Fortunately for us, it’s easy enough to find them.
Here are a few I’ve found through experimentation and recommendations from others.
1. Ask more questions.
Let’s assume you have good friends. If you don’t, this is not the blog post you should be reading. This is.
If you do, you should be using the knowledge and goodwill of your friends to learn the things Google can’t tell you. That means getting recommendations, polling opinions, and otherwise gathering direct feedback on the things you really want to know. I’ve already used this approach to find a good suit, get great books to read, poll people’s nuanced theological views, and gather a list of my friends who love Shakespeare for my future theatre outings.
Just go to your post editor and ask a question. Be specific and provide good parameters for the kind of answers you’re looking for.
It turns out that people love to answer these. Most people genuinely enjoy doing you that favor, and they love to be seen publicly sharing expertise. You get deep, contextualized answers or advice in return. Everybody wins.
2. Write on Facebook and for Facebook.
Of all the ways to distribute written content and get it seen by the most people, Facebook is the best. Its algorithm rewards any activity that keeps people 1) staring at their Facebook feeds and 2) not leaving Facebook.com for any reason.
That means if you’re a blogger, you really don’t want to rely on link-sharing from your own website if your goal is wide readership.
Throw your already-written posts directly into the Facebook post editor, format them for Facebook, and press publish.
As counterintuitive as it seems (Facebook posts have few useful formatting tools), these long Facebook posts perform really well, get a lot of views, and draw more comments than simple link shares.
Sometimes I’ll actually write my posts directly in the Facebook post editor, just like I’m posting a status. This has actually made my writing better. I write for a direct audience of people I know, so I don’t try to write too generically. I keep things short. I make them interesting.
3. Keep acquaintanceships fresh.
Let’s say you have 650 Facebook friends. How are you really going to maintain friendships with all of those people?
You’ve probably already noticed that about 50 of those 650 people actually interact with your posts. Facebook will only show your content to the people for whom it’s most relevant. So odds are the other 600 of your Facebook friends really have no idea what’s going on in your life, unless you create some especially popular post or share a picture of yourself driving a Ferrari. The flip side is also true: you probably don’t know what’s happening with most of your Facebook friends.
There is one exception: birthdays.
Facebook will automatically notify you if it’s the birthday of one of your Facebook friends. Use this opportunity to reconnect and leave at least one touch of meaningful contact for a relationship you’d like to keep alive.
Don’t just go your friend’s wall and say “Happy bday, bro!” Take some time to wish them well in a specific dimension of their life. Mention something specific you appreciate about them. Throw in an inside joke from a shared memory you have. Maybe ask a question or start planning a reunion in the near future.
It only takes one post like this a year to be a memorable and valuable online acquaintance to your Facebook friend network. Instead of watching your newsfeed 24/7 to “keep up with people’s lives,” just take a few minutes every day to send these birthday messages.