…one part creativity, one part common sense and one part being community oriented. Coolness isn’t about pushing your opinions and ideas down everyone else’s news feed and it isn’t about exposing yourself in embarrassing ways. Cool Facebook users are calm, self-regulated, caring and engaged participants who know what the limits of Facebook are and how to get the best out of the time spent on Facebook (without making that too much time).
Here are just a few tips…
Have a life outside of Facebook. Facebook is a way to keep others in your life, not a way to create a life, so go out and have yours, in full dimension. Facebook isn’t proof that you have friends––friends need real life interaction, not stacking up in a list. Checking your Facebook and keeping your profile up to date are one thing, so don’t spend all your time on what should be a tool you use wisely.
Avoid typical updates and seek the quirky instead. When talking to your friends using Facebook, avoid the dull details that you’d never share face to face. Knowing your daily movements (interpret that however you like) and your boredom quotient isn’t fascinating to anyone and it’s definitely not cool. Instead, look for ways to say interesting, different and quirky things that will cause your friends to want to read more. For example, if you discover a friend likes the same band as you, say something like: “Hey I love (blah) too! Do you have their new album?” and then go on to talk about how you were listening to their track when you accidentally dropped a wedding cake on your uncle’s dog, or something equally unusual and funny. Seek always to inject good humour into your Facebook interactions. Be truthful if you can, but there is probably some link you can make with something weird that has happened to you and something on their profile.
Post regularly but not with such frequency that people think you’re wired to Facebook.
As a community member, you will be considered cool for participating regularly. However, the cool can veer into uncool all too easily if you overdo your participation and flood people with your messages. Too many messages will come across as overbearing or annoying and you might lose connections as a result.
Avoid posting unless you have something interesting to say. Regularity isn’t an excuse for banality.
Keep your posts short and pithy. Long posts are a bore and aren’t what Facebook was intended for. Short and sweet will keep your Facebook reputation cool, allowing your friends to graze for the tidbits quickly. Keep your information to a few sentences maximum.
Compliment people. Being cool is about focusing beyond yourself and recognising the good others have done and said. Remember to ask others what they’ve been up to instead of assuming they care about what you’ve been up to. By asking people about themselves, you compliment them and they’ll want to talk to you again. They’ll see you as someone worth cultivating.
Don’t be nosy. Would you be nosy in real life? The bet is that you wouldn’t be half as nosy as you might be tempted to be on Facebook where the social constraints seem less real and actionable. Instead, be constrained and don’t go about delving for information in ways that seem pushy or suspicious. Above all, be discreet – post information about yourself and others that is fine for anyone to read; if it’s not fit for public consumption, it’s not fit for Facebook.
Don’t leave comments asking people about their status updates and relationship status changes unless you know them very well. Even then, keep any comment short and avoid making assumptions. What they’re saying may well be very different from what you’re understanding. If you really must know what’s going on, ask them privately.
Don’t rush to answer everything. Facebook isn’t ping pong. You don’t need to volley back every post, question or comment. Some things don’t need to be commented on at all. Others could probably do with no more than a brief acknowledgement, such as “OK” or “Sounds great”.
Write polite and thoughtful Facebook posts. Think about posts before you write them, and wait two minutes between reading and posting a message, update or reply. Spell properly (there is nothing to be gained by being a sloppy speller), with the exception of recognized and accepted shortcuts (such as LOL and BTW). Keeping it casual is fine but misprinting words just because you can’t be bothered to check the spelling isn’t cool. Do you want to come across as informed? Then write well.
Use occasional emoticons. Smileys are nice, as long as you don’t use them in every post or stack them up with exclamation marks and crazy comments.
Be clear and choose your words with care. Much of what we mean comes from our careful (or not-so-careful) choice of words.
Use line break, commas and periods (full stops) to help people understand what you’re saying. Also, use normal capitalisation – avoid typing everything in upper case as it isn’t appropriate either from a grammar point of view or an etiquette one (it’s considered to represent shouting in the online environment and even if you already know that, if you’ve forgotten, then remind yourself).
State facts, don’t gossip. Obscure references to things you’ve overheard or misread can spark chains of online rumours. Don’t let things like that get out of hand. Always check your facts before making bold assertions or statements.
Don’t write anything vulgar or sexually oriented. On the whole, most people have such a diverse range of friends that you need to be mindful of a broad audience. If you want to be crass, message with your equally good humoured crass-minded friend and get it off your chest in private. When in public view, relax and show you’re a normal person everyone feels comfortable talking to.
Realise that just because you care about a cause or game, you don’t have a right to intimidate people with it. Unfortunately, some rather uncool behaviour has appeared on Facebook when it comes to promoting a cause or personal excitement about Facebook linked games. And some people think it’s okay to shove their cause in the faces of their friends on a regular basis, winding up to a belting crescendo that guilt people into signing petitions or sending on messages on behalf of the cause or their new initiative. This isn’t anywhere near cool––it’s invasive and it’s exhausting. You’ll lose friends if you overdo your passion for anything.
Other things to be careful with include:
Quit whining and complaining. Gripes are irksome on Facebook. Do you like reading people’s distress and down moments on your news feed? Then take it as read that few other people do either. It’s really not cool to use Facebook as a grievance forum. There are far more constructive and caring places to deal with personal problems than Facebook.
Equally important is not assuming that people on Facebook will agree with everything you say. If you’re opinionated, Facebook really isn’t the place to air your fierce opinions. Get yourself a good blog for that part of your creative urge.
Be friendly, relaxed and true to yourself. If you don’t feel this trio of self-empowerment, turn off the social media connection until your mojo is restored – often a good sleep or an afternoon off will do the trick. Coolness wears off quickly when you’re snappy, irritable and clearly self-absorbed on Facebook.
- Be honest in what you add. Making up wild stories about your life will rebound eventually and you’ll have a hard time keeping track of your dishonest trail!
- Remember that whatever you post goes to everyone who is your friend on Facebook.
- Don’t accept every friend request you receive. Be discerning about how many people you can maintain coolness for. By the time you’re letting people you’ve never heard of, met or known in any way whatsoever into your inner circle, you’re diminishing your experience, let alone opening yourself up to fake and fraudulent people.
- Never gossip. Everyone knows where it came from and you’ll have a reputation for putting others down faster than you can blink.
- A profile photo of you with friends is confusing to people checking the site, especially those you’ve made friends with only in the online sphere. They’ll be wondering who the other people are and why they’re so important to be included in that photo. They might even mistake someone among the people for you. And that’s not even to mention how confusing it might be for an old friend who has come searching for you.
- Keep a list of cool quotes and funny phrases you come across in daily life. You can feed these in slowly to share with your friends. Best of all––they’ll be originally sourced and not just you passing them on from somewhere else online.
- Facebook addiction is a recognised condition that involves compulsive constant checking of updates and remaining connected to Facebook at all hours. If you feel that you just can’t live without Facebook every fifteen minutes or so, seek help for compulsive behaviour!
- Delete embarrassing application addition stories from your mini-feed. (Do this by pressing the ‘X’ on the right of the story you think is embarrassing and then clicking ‘Hide story’).
- Don’t base your relationships with others on the things said and shared on Facebook. The online world isn’t as finely and carefully nuanced as face-to-face communications, pheromones and body language, which means you can make some huge mistakes about people’s feelings and intentions.
- Keep your private life private. Nobody needs to know your inner workings, your personal details or home address. And never post embarrassing photographs of yourself–by now it ought to be clear to every Facebook user that this is a very stupid thing to do. Use discretion to keep cool.
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