In Part 1 of this series Facebook for Writers Part 1: The Wherefores and the Whys I told you a few good reasons why you should make Facebook a part of your platform. Platform is a bit of a buzzword in the writing community. If you want to be published it is essential that you know what it is, and how to build a good one. In short it is the resources you have built which will enable you to market the things that you publish.
Do you have “concerns” about “issues” that are keeping you from creating a Facebook Profile? If so, you are not alone. Enough people share your concerns that I can make a short list of them here:
- Time Management and “Facebook Addiction”
- Copyright protection
- Negative Impact on Employment
- General Fear of “Doing it Wrong”
Do you see your concern listed there? If not please comment below and I will be glad to address it.
Since some of you will be totally unfamiliar with Facebook I should define a few terms before we go on. Facebook Profile and Facebook Page are not the same thing. The Facebook Profile is usually reserved for personal use and the Page is for business or marketing. You have to have the Profile first before you can get the Page. The Page is what you will use for your platform. A lot of the concerns and issues people have about Facebook revolve around the Profile’s use. You don’t actually have to use the Profile or do anything personal on Facebook if you don’t want to. But if you don’t have a Profile with friends to draw upon it will make it harder to market your Page.
This is usually people’s biggest concern and yet the most easily managed. Just approach Facebook like you would any social interaction. Abide by the same code of conduct that you would in a public social setting. Use good judgement about what you post on Facebook and only post something you feel comfortable with anyone seeing.
The Golden Rule of the Internet: Nothing on the Internet is truly private no matter what settings you are using. Its the same as if you say something in confidence to someone in real life; swearing them to secrecy does not really prevent them from telling everyone what you said–or prevent someone from accidentally overhearing it. If you are aware of your privacy settings and learn how to use them effectively, you can be reasonably sure of your privacy most of the time.
You may follow a code of conduct but not everyone does and you can’t always anticipate what other people will do. If someone posts something inappropriate to your wall you can easily remove it, and use your privacy settings to prevent a recurrence. Try not to be too mortified, keep calm and don’t mention it once it’s been deleted. Most of the time nobody will have seen it and if they did they probably understand exactly what happened and don’t hold it against you. Thankfully events like this are rare.
Here are a few tips to help you ease your privacy concerns:
- Stick to your code of conduct
- Consider each friend request carefully; reserve your Profile’s friends list for the people you want to keep in touch with and keep up to date on the personal events in your life, direct fans to your Page
- Consider who is on your friends list when you post
- Only post things you would be comfortable with anyone seeing, no matter what your privacy settings
- Never assume absolute privacy, unless you are alone with your thoughts; not even your private diary is 100% secure if you have a nosey mother
- Don’t let fear of what might happen limit you; “bad things” happen less often than your imagination and the media would have you believe
- Learn how to use your privacy settings and understand how they work
- If something goes awry stay calm, fix it and take steps to prevent it reoccurring
This is the real thing you have to worry about with Facebook. People aren’t necessarily addicted to Facebook, although there are a few who are, but it is very easy to start scrolling through feeds, making posts and playing a few games and then suddenly find that you have lost half a day. If you think this will be a problem for you then you need to create a plan or a schedule and stick to it. Remember Facebook is an important tool for building your platform, but its not the most important thing you do.
Let’s get games out of the way first. Games on Facebook usually encourage you to check back multiple times in a day and spend lots of time on them. These are the worst games for time management. If you are going to play a game on Facebook then you should:
- Limit the number of different games you play
- Avoid games that you seem to be unable to get much accomplished and keep you constantly checking back
- Choose a time of day that you will spend on your games that is not during the hours you are trying to be productive
- Remember nobody takes offense if you block their game requests, and if you have friends who play a lot of games you may need to for your sanity and to stop wasting time clicking no to all their requests–your friend can continue getting points for sending you the request and you can have some peace and quiet, just be careful to block the game not the friend
Your use of Facebook can be a productive activity if you are using it wisely, but all too easily it can trap you in a vortex of wasted time. To manage this here are some helpful tips:
- Don’t make Facebook your first activity of the day; decide what activities are most important to get done first and attend to those before Facebook
- When on Facebook do your important marketing and platform development stuff first before you start socializing or checking games
- Allot a certain amount of time per day to Facebook–set a timer if you have to
- If you find it difficult to stop yourself try using a Net Nanny or something that will block Facebook from you until its allotted time
- If you are writing try turning off your Internet connection until you are finished; this will also discourage you from interrupting your writing to look something up on Google–which you should leave until your editing phase anyway (Google has its own vortex by the way)
- Learn how to automatically post your blog to your Facebook Page so you don’t have to do it manually and get trapped in the vortex
- Learn about cross posting; if you have a lot of social media accounts other than Facebook and want the same thing posted on all of them, cross posting can allow you to do this without visiting them all
- Limit the notifications that come through to your e-mail or phone; you don’t need to know about every single “like” or each post some stranger makes after you on some post you commented on
Have I missed anything? Please share your tips for managing your time wisely on Facebook.
Here is a big one for writers. There are a few infamous sections of the Facebook terms of service that make it seem like Facebook is just waiting for you to post valuable content so that they can steal it and use it for their own profit.
Basically Facebook requires you to grant them unlimited license to use your content. Instead of freaking out, let’s use our heads and some logic here. First a few clarifications, Facebook is asking for a license to use, not ownership. You still retain full ownership rights of your content. They are also not demanding exclusive use, you are still allowed to publish your content elsewhere.
Logically in order to do the things that you want Facebook to do, it has to have a license to use the content that you post. They are putting it on their servers and distributing it around the world on your behalf. They just don’t want to get sued for that. Logically they are in the business of social networking, not publishing books full of your short stories.
No, there is no guarantee that one day Mark Zuckerberg won’t go rogue and start abusing this license by ripping off content from Facebook Pages and publishing it under his own name for a profit. Logically….?
Negative Impact on Employment
This one is just silly. Its a media generated kerfuffle. Sure a few dunderheaded teens and youths have used Facebook with a bit too much abandon and possibly hurt their futures–probably running for President is out for them. But this is not an excuse for anyone to avoid Facebook!
You have a code of conduct and you do your best to stick to it, whether its a real life social setting or an Internet social setting. Your code of conduct should obviously include caveats for your particular line of work.
The laws about how a person can be disciplined at work based on social media are still being sorted out, but even before social media the courts had already made determinations about disciplinary actions for things done on non-company time. Even if it’s done on your own free time, if you do something that could directly affect or undermine the performance of your professional responsibilities you can be disciplined or terminated. Facebook just makes it easier for your boss to see the evidence.
If you are a sensible person with an ounce of decorum you really don’t have anything to worry about here. If you are a wild child, completely out of control, but don’t ever plan to work for the man or follow a dress code or run for President–well you better just hope you don’t change your mind.
General Fear of “Doing it Wrong”
The only really wrong thing to do, is to not do it. Go get your Facebook Profile started already. Mistakes aren’t really a big deal. We make them, we learn and we move on. Just be sensible and do your best to follow your code of conduct. Get out there and start doing some really great things.
Tune in for my next installment, Facebook for Writers Part 3: The How and the What, where I will talk about how to build your platform on Facebook and what you will need to do.
So did I alleviate some of your concerns or do you still have more? Let me know.