Yesterday, we talked about rookie mistakes to avoid on Twitter. I thought it might be good, while I was at it, to list a few rookie mistakes to avoid on Facebook. Fortunately, any mistakes you make on Facebook won't be as obvious as ones made on Twitter, because Facebook is, by nature, more personal and even the unwritten "rules" are more flexible (more like suggestions). Still, I do see newbies every day, making mistakes that are likely to cost them time and cause them stress down the road, and these can be easily avoided with a little planning and coaching. Here are some of the "noob" mistakes to avoid on Facebook:
Too little security. Often Facebook newbies have the attitude that "I don't have anything to hide, so I don't need to worry about privacy," when it comes to Facebook. This may be true. Your life may be an open book, but on Facebook, if you don't use any security at all, so is your wall. You might post something that you think is totally benign, and the next thing you know, the friends of one of your groups of friends are fighting with the friends of another of your groups of friends - right on your wall, and you're trying to figure out how to moderate this free-for-all.
Too much security. While I would not recommend allowing everyone on the web to view everything on your Facebook account, I also would not recommend locking your account down so tight that not even your friends can see your profile photo or write on your wall. This sort of defeats the purpose of a being on a "social" network. Loosen up a little.
Sign up, log in, and immediately start playing every game and inviting everyone you know to use every app you can find. OK, here's a rule of thumb: If your friends have been on Facebook longer than you, they've probably already seen all of the most common games and apps - ad nauseum. Some of the apps and games are spam, and have security risk, and most Facebook users get tired of even the legit ones quickly. If your friens are nice, they'll block the app. If they aren't so much friends as aquaintances, they're likely to blog YOU.
Use Facebook's Friend Finder. I made this mistake, and won't do it again. I would NOT recommend allowing Facebook to ever scan your e-mail address list. If you do, your friends are likely to start getting spammed with invites you don't even know about.
Avoid these simple faux pas, and you'll be much farther down the road toward a fun, and problem-free Facebook experience.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.