By Mona Malacane
I consider myself to be somewhat of a dinosaur when it comes to social media. I don’t have a Twitter, I would probably be classified as a liker (read: lurker) on Facebook, and I still don’t have a good understanding of why people use Instagram for anything other than editing their pictures. To be perfectly honest and self-aware, I often refrain from posting pictures and/or statuses on Facebook because I can’t figure out if what I’m posting is completely pointless, somewhat funny, or even remotely like-worthy enough for people to care. So this week I talked to Josh Sites –someone who I consider to be rather amusing on Facebook – about the proper uses, best practices, and archetypes of Facebook.
Josh explained to me that first and foremost, Facebook is not for bragging. Second, avoid puns (sorry Edo!). Third, be novel! Josh says that the trick is to discuss a “topic that everyone can relate to but we don’t talk about every day.” Take, for instance, those annoying “like if you think puppies are cute” pictures: obviously we all think puppies are cute. Yes, they’re wonderful and fluffy, but that isn’t anything new. A puppy wearing a crocheted bowl as a hat… Now that can get some likes.
Josh’s rule of thumb when posting new content is to post things that he would like. “It’s about saying what you want to say, and what matters to you, and what you enjoy. And saying it in a way that is approachable, as opposed to creating something for other people.” But there is a cut-off point! For example, I can’t only post adorable pictures of my dog wearing funny things that I crochet (which matters to me and I enjoy) and expect people not to get bored. Josh also recommends that if you’re using FB for leisure and humor try to stick to lighter topics like Occupy FB with Jeff Goldblum or a BuzzFeed article about the awful accessories that we all wore in the early 2000s. However, if you must post or respond to something controversial (e.g. politics, religion, research), refrain from “heavy-handed” statements. “It’s about adding to the collective,” Josh says, so keep the debates and rants to a minimum, people.
Now when it comes to Facebook etiquette, Josh’s number one tenet is to use proper grammar. This isn’t the 7th grade, he says, we know the difference between “your and you’re.” Also, be judicious with your likes. “Give likes to content that matters” and withhold any unkind comments. Essentially, you should follow the adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” If you’re one of those people who has a skeleton FB profile (cough… Harmeet Sawhney … cough), Josh says that even if you don’t want to share that much about yourself “you could at least fill your FB with some fluff every now and then.” He likened these stingy users (i.e. who don’t post at all or include any personal info) to the people who go to parties but just stand there frowning and standing in a corner. But seriously, what’s the point of having one if you aren’t going to use it??
Josh also shared with me one of his Facebook pet peeves: pictures of food that people don’t make themselves. And I have to say that I concur. It’s nice to share that you’re eating good food but (1) it makes me jealous and (2) it makes me hungry. But since you didn’t make your delicious food and then share the recipe in the comments (because you know someone will ask for the recipe in the comments), then I am S.O.L. because I don’t know how to make your delicious food. See the problem here, y’all?!
And last, Josh described to me the ten different profile picture archetypes:
- Informational/professional – think yearbook picture or LinkedIn picture.
- You and your hobby/interest– for Josh, this is a picture of him and his guitar.
- The no face pic – a picture of a flower, landscape, or your favorite car.
- The “inside joke” picture.
- The gratuitous selfie – that you probably Instagrammed too.
- Social activism – anything that has the words “______ awareness week” qualifies.
- The “showing-everyone-you’re-a-really-fun-person-drinking” picture – no explanation needed.
- The non sequitur – has nothing to do with anything but you make it your prof pic anyways.
- The couple pic – these are either from some formal/dressy event, you and your partner doing a color run.
- And finally, the “I’m-self-conscious-of-how-I-look-so-I’ll-make-a-stupid-face.”